December 7, 2013

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet (Scarlet #1)
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Release Date: February 14th, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Page Count: 292
Source: Purchased
First Reaction: Cross dressing, retellings, thieving and all of the other things I abso-freaking-lutely love.
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


We all know Will Scarlet and Maid Marian, right? Classic Robin Hood characters. But, guys, did you ever imagine they were THE SAME PERSON? Because that's what A.C. Gaughen imagined and then she wrote us a book about it and it's swoony and angsty and cross-dressing-ly perfect. Honestly, you guys, the stakes are high, the game is afoot and I honestly can't believe I waited to long to read this one.

Okay guy, I'm gonna do something different this time...

Dear Scarlet,

Has anyone told you are perfection? Like, the most perfect. First there's your premise. Cross dressing? I mean, shut up, you're so clever, get out of town, but don't because I love you so much, never leave me. I've not read/seen a lot of Robin Hood related things so I'm not a pro on the lore and history and whatnot, but honestly, as far as I'm concerned, you, little book, work perfectly with what I do know. And for that, I love you EVEN MORE. 

Okay, but I didn't just love the premise of you, book. I also loved your main characters. Scarlet, you're a hero. And absolute hero. I love you so much even though you're all self deprecating-y. I don't even hate that you always use the word "where" instead of "was". And your reasoning for doing that? Ugh, please, don't even get me started. You're also crazy independent. I admire that about you. I also totally understand your fears throughout the book but can't get enough of the fact that you never walked away when you absolutely could have. 

Then there's Robin Hood. Oh Rob. Your backstory is so heartbreaking and I hate you for every time you yell at Scarlet but I don't actually hate you because you're fantastic and we all know the truth. It's hard to be open with your feelings, but you need to be. You need to stop deflecting. I know you can do it, I KNOW. But until you do, I tolerate you and your silliness because, well, what else can a girl do?

I also really love John and Much. I mean, JOHN. KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS. But at the same time you ramp up the drama and you're great. Much, I love your side friendship with Scarlet. It's special and different and quiet in a way I absolutely adored. I also was really into the rest of your supporting cast, book. 

There's also the villain. Gisbourne is terrifying and the absolute worst. I mean, I was scared and didn't know why for the longest time. You really keep such good secrets and put in such good twists, book. But then we, the reader, find out what's up with Gisbourne and you're just like: "THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE BUT ALSO MAKES GISBOURNE INTO AN EVEN MORE TWISTED INDIVIDUAL." Then, sadly, you start winding down, Mr. Book, we're even more scared for Scarlet and Rob than we were at the start of all this.

Oh, and speaking of your secrets and twists, dear book: WHOA. I mean, we walk into this knowing the BIG secret - that Will Scarlet's not actually boy. But we don't know why Will Scarlet's dressed up as Will Scarlet. We don't know who Will Scarlet really is. We just don't know. And maybe there are better Robin Hood fans out there who guessed, but I was surprised by how it all went down and I love surprises of the bookish nature. 

Basically, book, what I'm trying to say is that you gave me everything I was looking for. There was swooning and fighting and angst and mystery and heartbreak and jaw-dropping moments that'll probably make me read you again in the coming years. Really, book, you're the total package.

So until I get around to your second installation, dear book, I'll leave this love note here. But don't worry, I won't loiter around and stupidly put off reading Lady Thief the same way I stupidly put off read you, Scarlet. No. Definitely not.

Yours always,

The long and short of it?

Plot: Just quoting myself from up above: "Swoony and angsty and cross-dressing-ly perfect." (Spell check hates all of these words, whatever I don't care.)
World Building: As historically accurate as I need it to be - so, in other words, perfect. 
Character Development: UGH. PLEASE CAN I JUST SMASH SCARLET AND ROB'S FACES TOGETHER? *sigh* I know I can't, and it's good that I can't because the character development is just so delicious, but still.
Prose: I really loved that this book was written so authentically from Scarlet's POV. So fantastic.
Would I Recommend This Book?: In general, I would say everyone needs to stop reading what they're reading and pick up this book. But more realistically, I'd recommend this book for lovers of retellings, Robin Hood, swoons, cross dressing, angst and other emotions that make you want to cry just a little.

How do you feel about my love note to Scarlet? Did you feel similarly? Have you not read it yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below!