Tyrants come in all forms – princes, sheriffs, and even lowly thief catchers. Fortunately for the people ground under the heels of those tyrants, heroes arise, though some from the unlikeliest of places. When Prince John of England gives the stolen lands of Nottinghamshire to a crony, a bold band of thieves and prison-breakers saves the people from heavy taxes and starvation by their new sheriff. The leader of this band is one of our most popular folk heroes: Robin Hood. A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet is a fresh interpretation of the familiar legend of Robin Hood and his followers, John Little, Friar Tuck, and Will Scarlet. However, Gaughen presents an intriguing twist: Will Scarlet is actually a young woman on the run from her wicked fiancé. Only Robin and a few of his most trusted men know Scar’s secret, since she wears men’s clothing and slips through drains with ease, and she fights at Robin’s side, hurling daggers and somersaulting through the air like a ninja. Perhaps Gaughen’s Scarlet is a little too invincible when she gets hacked in the shoulder by a sword, then scales a sheer castle wall despite her grievous wound, but there’s no lack of action in this book. Scarlet also uses a crude dialect, and I wondered why nobody else in Robin’s band spoke that way, but eventually we learn that it is part of her disguise.
Twilight fans will relish the romantic tension between Scarlet, Robin, and John. Both teens and adults will enjoy this fast-paced novel, and hold their breath for the moment when Gaughen’s truculent, engaging heroine’s hidden life is exposed.