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Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Format: eARC
Pages: 296
Source: Netgalley

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'm not going to lie, I know absolutely nothing about Robin Hood. I've never seen the movies or read the various books about him. And for that reason, I almost did not request Scarlet from Netgalley. But every time I'd scroll past it, Scarlet's face kept popping out and her ferocity and determination called to me--as did the knife she was holding. So I finally pushed the request button, and I don't regret it one tiny, itsy bitsy bit. Then, I read the first page and I put the book away for later. My internal editor was SCREECHING (I'll explain later). But I returned and I pushed through the first few pages...and I FELL IN LOVE. This is my favorite read of 2012 so far, even though I've only read ten books. I've been in a reading slump lately, and Scarlet was just what I needed: fresh, a kickass heroine, and a completely swoon-worthy romance.

So there's this girl. Not a lot of people really know she's a girl, except those that matter. Everyone else knows her as this sneaky thief who really helps the town and gives the people hope. This would actually be Scarlet, and she is ten times more hardcore than they realize. She's brave, clever, and a master knife-thrower. She's devoted to saving the townspeople by giving them food and money and other essentials. She thinks it's the only way she can atone for her "black soul" and a very dark memory of her past that she refuses to talk to anyone about. And that's all good. Everyone loves a hero. Except when things go wrong, she puts three billion pounds of blame on her shoulders. She won't eat because she thinks of all the people that don't have food and she feels guilty. She'll run away from the people that care about her. Scarlet also tends to get grumpy and defensive and she closes herself off from the people that love her and want to help her. Sometimes I wanted to be like, "JUST TELL THE DUDE!" but I could easily understand why she was so sketchy. And it was so easy to get over because she's this completely awesome character that you just love and feel for and connect with. I think that may be one reason I loved this book so much was because out of all the books I've read this year, this is the only one where I was really able to form a strong connection with the protagonist.

The second--or tied for first?--biggest reason I adored this book so much? ROB. I mean, he's Robin Hood, so I didn't think he would be such an...amazing character. But I fell for him the moment he was introduced. And then as the book went on, I sold my heart to him. He's perfect for Scarlet. He's always trying to be the hero, and even though everyone looks up to him and kisses the ground he walks on, he is entirely too hard on himself. GAH! I just love him. The way he is willing to do anything for Scarlet...except maybe admit his feelings for her at a good time.

The romance in this book is the good kind that YA does not see enough of these days. The kind that consists of more than just back and forth banter and arrogant smiles. I mean, this is the good stuff. There's real conversation between Rob and Scarlet, and a build up. I just wanted to push their heads together and be like, "KISS, DAMMIT. KISS!" like I did with Barbie and Ken when I was little. I could feel their chemistry from the beginning. And every encounter between the two of them after that was laced with all these unsaid feelings that I felt in my gut. Now, I know that this might spoil people's feelings on the romance, but there is actually a love triangle. But it's different in this book, I swear. It's not this beautiful girl charming two gorgeous guys on "accident" and have them hate each other because they are so desperate for her affection because she is so perfect and she just doesn't know who to choose. Scarlet has no qualms about telling John exactly what's up. She didn't obsess over her romance, like, "Poor me! I have to choose between 2 guys!" She had more important things to focus on. And she never really thought that she had to make a choice between John and Rob. It was more like she had to decide what she felt about John because Rob made it really obvious that she wasn't good enough for her. And even then, she told John straight up that she wasn't interested in being his play thing and that she didn't really want to be his girl, either.

The writing in this book is so fabulous. I could see and feel it all. And Scarlet's voice was so authentic. When I said that my internal editor was screeching at this book, it was because of the aforementioned authenticity. Scarlet is this tough thief who doesn't take any crap from anybody, so her grammar is not particularly flawless. She uses the word "were" in replace of "was" and she'll say things like "I was fair sure that..." So at first I was a little put off, but my mind eventually adjusted to it and every word felt real and true. The world building was smooth and incorporated seamlessly, exhibiting the horrors of the sheriff and the Thief Taker, and displaying the desperation of the townspeople.

So pretty much, if you're looking for a great read, you need to read Scarlet. You don't have to be a fan of Robin Hood to enjoy this book. There are epic fight scenes and dark secrets. Fantastic characters with surprising depth and backstories. A search for vengeance. Broken promises and the perpetual threat of death. This is just a phenomenal debut that deserves so much attention and love. I really hope there will be a sequel or a companion of sorts, because the ending really left room for that. The ending also left me with a smile on my face and Scarlet's voice ringing inside of my head. I couldn't stop reading and I didn't want to. Scarlet will fill your heart and your mind and you're not gonna want to quit reading until you're finished--or even then, I reckon ;D


  1. Great review! I have this book on my TBR for this month and I am now dying to read it. I love kickass heroines and Rob sounds exactly like my kind of guy! Can't wait to read it.

    (BTW I know what you mean about the whole internal editor thing. Blood Red Road has a similar grammar thing that took some getting used to.)

  2. Love the cover on this one. I am not a big YA person. Please drop by my revu of Molly Harper and enter to win the FAIR GAME giveaway from Pat Briggs.

    Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    Twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  3. yayy ya yy yaay/it sounds good. it has been a while on my wishlist
    hoping to read this soon
    lovly review


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I love to hear from my readers, whether they agree or disagree with my opinion :) I do my best to get back to every commenter, though I am not always successful. Heh...Anyway, I look forward to hearing what you have to say! :D

~ Gabbi