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08 October 2013

Review: Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Will Scarlet is on the run.

Once the sheltered son of nobility, Will has become an exile. While his father, Lord Shackley, has been on the Crusades with King Richard, a treacherous plot to unseat Richard has swept across England, and Shackley House has fallen.

Will flees the only home he's ever known into neighboring Sherwood Forest, where he joins the elusive gang of bandits known as the Merry Men. Among them are Gilbert, their cruel leader; a giant named John Little; a drunkard named Rob; and Much, an orphan girl disguised as a bandit boy.

This is the story of how a band of misfit outlaws become heroes of legend - thanks to one brave 13-year-old boy.
(from Amazon)
 I love a good Robin Hood story and always have.  Heck, I even like bad Robin Hood stories.  I've read books, I've watched movies, I've cried my eyes out at BBC shows, and have spent countless hours on wikipedia reading about Robin Hood.  As long as we're robbing the rich to feed the poor in some way or another, I'm good.

I was so excited when I heard that Matthew Cody was writing a Robin Hood book, but from Will Scarlett's point of view (and with a twist!).  I had the amazon pre-order page pulled up on my ipad and wouldn't close it.  And then, Netgalley said I had been pre-approved to read the e-galley, and I must admit, I screamed a little when I read the email.

In this version, Will is the noble's son, not Rob (and Rob isn't even the original leader of the Merry Men!).  Will is captured by the Merry Men when he is injured while trying to escape Sir Guy of Gisbourne and his henchmen.  Will promises the Merry Men treasure if they help him get back into the castle, not realizing that he is starting the Robin Hood legend we know and love today. 

I liked that the story isn't just about Will and follows his actions, but follows Much as well.  You see both of them grow from scared children to capable teenagers (almost adults) very quickly.  The book mentions how attractive Much is once Will realizes she's a girl, and how Much can't think straight when Will is around, but nothing romantic is acted on.  After all, they are just 13 and 14 years old.

I also liked that Rob wasn't the jovial Robin Hood character I've seen in the past.  In this version, he's an alcoholic who slowly starts down the road to recovery once he has something to live for again.  Once he makes this change, he starts to become Robin Hood.

This book has thieving and fighting, but it's not a "boy book".  There is some underlying romance, but it isn't a "girl book".  It's just simply a good book.  One that would appeal to all readers.

And today is it's book birthday---so do yourself a favor and go get it!   

I'd like to thank Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this book, in exchange for a fair and honest review.     

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