Author: A. C. Gaughen
Review Summary: It’s a clever take on the original myth, but I was disappointed to see this fun adventure story turned into just another YA love triangle with an indecisive heroine.
As part of Alison at The Cheap Reader’s Project: Fairy Tale, I will be reviewing one original and three re-tellings of Robin Hood this month. Scarlet is the first re-telling I’ve read and has the most unique premise among the re-tellings I’ve found. Told from the perspective of “Will” Scarlet, the author ponders the possibility that the young boy in Robin’s band was actually a young woman. Adventure, and of course, romance quickly ensue.
I really loved the premise behind the book. As there is little to no historical information available about the origins of the Robin Hood myth, there’s no reason Scarlet couldn’t actually have been a woman. Plus I’m always in favor of seeing fairy tales re-cast with strong female leads. It’s just such a nice break from the traditional helpless damsel! Unfortunately, I enjoyed the execution significantly less than the starting point. Scarlet’s London thief patois comes and goes as she tells the story, enough that I never really got into it. Instead, I was frequently pulled out of the narrative by odd words and phrases. Her personality never grew on me either, or developed at all for that matter. She starts out touchy and grumpy because of trust issues and she never improves in that regard. While I don’t mind characters with weaknesses, it’s important that they enjoy some personal growth throughout the novel and that doesn’t happen here.
Scarlet is also not the strong heroine I was looking for. Sure, she can fight with the best of them and is compassionate to those she helps. But all that independence goes right out the window when it comes to boys – the weakness of so many otherwise wonderful heroines. I don’t mind love triangles on principle, but I passionately hate heroines who lead two boys on and can’t make up their minds. In someone who’s otherwise so brave, this indecision at the expense of other’s feelings is neither believable nor relatable. If you disagree with me and enjoy such love triangles, you might enjoy this book significantly more than I did. It does keep the fun, adventurous feel of the original and something exciting is always happening. I just couldn’t get over my complete disappointment with our heroine.