Review Detail5.0 3
It is very rare anymore that I’m completely in love with a book halfway through the first chapter. It’s also very rare that I get all swoony over the main character’s love interest, especially if I get swoony in the first chapter. By page 10, I knew I was going to love Scarlet.
The first thing I noticed (and eventually came to like) about this book was the style Gaughen writes in. It’s narrated in first person from Scarlet’s point of view, and let’s just say that Scarlet has some issues with her grammar. Normally, I would have hated it; I mean, the entire book is written “incorrectly.” But I actually think it worked. I got used to Scarlet’s “I were smiling at him” and “He were ‘bout to see my mug” diction. I fell into an easy rhythm and really worked.
By far, my favorite character type in any given novel is the melancholy antihero. Tall, dark and handsome, mysterious past, full of honorable intentions to atone for past mistakes. Well, in Scarlet, there are two of those characters. First, Robin Hood, a landless earl devoted to saving his people. And then Scarlet herself, who besides being a strong, brassy protagonist, is also a female antihero. Whoa. Sign me up! Feminist takes on a legend like Robin Hood are always welcome on my shelf.
Then there’s the romance, and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I absolutely loved the love triangle. Yes, I said it. Robin Hood and Little John were two amazing guys, and I loved both of them to death. And the thing that made me not mind the love triangle was Scarlet herself—she never once flirted or led either of the two guys on. She wasn’t interested in romance, honestly. And because Scarlet was a “brother in arms”, Rob and John were never over the top in the ways they tried to make Scarlet notice them.
Yep, anyway, let’s just say that if I could have a Rob or a John, things would be great. It’s really reminiscent of back when I was 7 or 8 and only read middle grade historical fiction. You’d be surprised by the swoon-worthy men that populate that genre.
Aside from the swoon-worthiness, the plot for Scarlet was pretty good. There’s the typical Sheriff of Nottingham running around, taxing without representation, and then there’s this really creepy Gisbourne fellow who the Sheriff hires to search and destroy Robin Hood and his gang. Except Gisbourne has something to do with Scarlet’s secret past, and things get very juicy very fast.
I also really liked Gaughen’s “take” on the Robin Hood legends. Everything was still recognizable as the original story, but there were some changes, making things grittier and more true to life in a lot of cases. It was like The Adventures of Robin Hood but with a more serious atmosphere. Rob, for instance, wasn’t quite as jolly as his Eroll Flynn cousin, since he had the burden of his own secret past and a forbidden love for Scarlet.
And then there is the end. Oh boy. Gaughen is a genius with her end, I swear. She left things so open-ended, and while the swooning part of me wanted a bow-tied happily-ever-after ending, I think that the actual final scene is so much better. It’s definitely one I’m going to be thinking about and turning over for a few days.
You know, I stayed up all night trying to think of what I didn’t like about Scarlet, but I couldn’t think of a single thing. My little sister gets crazy mad applause for recommending this one.
Unique writing style and strong characters set A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet apart from most YA novels. I was hooked in the story from the very beginning, and I was never disappointed the whole way through. Scarlet is an absolute must read on a historical fiction standpoint.