Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Book: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #1
Released: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 287 (Kindle Version)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Scarlet (Scarlet #1) 

From GoodReads: 
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

     I've never really been a huge Robin Hood fan. I know the basic story, but beyond that I've never had a lot of interest in the story. When you say Robin Hood to me, this is the first thing that comes to mind:
I like when Fiona punches him. He deserves it.

     With that being said, I was hopefully optimistic. I generally love historical settings, and this definitely fit the bill. Even not knowing a lot of the background of the story, I still knew the major locations discussed like Sherwood Forest and Nottingham, which helps constructing a map in your head of locations mentioned throughout the book. (sidenote: I LOVE when authors include maps in books. It makes me happy and automatically adds half a point to the rating.)

     The story moves at a fairly quick pace, which I really enjoyed. At only 287 pages, it was a really quick read for me. More importantly, I never felt like it was dragging on, nor did I feel like I was missing any details. There's enough world-building that you don't miss out by not knowing the history of the story. I was immediately engrossed in the storytelling, and it definitely drew me in right from the beginning. There's some mystery surrounding Scarlet, which I did figure out rather quickly, but it was still interesting to read the details of the how and why. She's a strong and complex female character, not a doormat, which I always enjoy.

     And Robin Hood? I adore how he's written. Strong, responsible and good looking. Everything a hero and love interest should be. I like the choice Gaughen made of having all the characters younger (Rob is only 21), but faced with seemingly insurmountable tasks of taking care of the villagers. The other two members of the Hood's band are Much and John. We don't get a whole lot of information about their backgrounds, Much in particular-I'd really like to know more about him-but they still feel like fleshed out and fully-realized characters. You can't help but want them to succeed.

     My only *slight* complaint is the grammar and syntax used in the story. Reading incorrect grammar and spelling absolutely drives me crazy (I'm looking at you facebook!). Scarlet commonly uses "were" instead of "was" and other grammar mistakes, it was clearly intended to be that way and it serves the author's purpose of Scarlet sounding uneducated and like a thief. I didn't mind it as much by the end, but it definitely took me a while to get used to reading it.
     So to sum up there were lots of things I liked: Pretty cover? Check! Historical Setting? Check! Strong female character? Check! Gender bending? Check! Swoon-worthy love interest? Check! Drama & Intrigue? Check!

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