Review of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Scarlet (Scarlet #1)Scarlet
By: A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: February 14th 2012

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
I admit that I actually didn’t bother reading the summary before purchasing this book. I had heard from countless trusted bloggers how amazing this story was so knew I needed to read it sooner than later.

Upon reading the first chapter I was excited to learn that I was about to embark upon a retelling of Robin Hood. I’ve always had a special place for the Prince of Thieves. I honestly can’t think of a version of the classic I’ve not enjoyed to some degree (even the movie remake with Kevin Costner). There is something so romantic, mesmerizing and engaging about this story.

In her book, A.C. Gaughen puts her own twist on the classic by changing Will Scarlet’s gender. Throughout the history of the Robin Hood story many versions of Will have existed. Some have him loving finery and being of noble birth, some have him as brooding. A couple of factors typically stayed the same and that was the he was always younger than the other Merry Men and had a close relationship with Robin.

My favorite depictions of him were those where he was mysterious and quiet. I was more than pleased that Gaughen took some of my favorite elements of this character while also portraying a strong, passionate woman. Since Will’s character has always been a bit elusive I loved the idea that he was really a she (I’m not sure I can ever get tired of the gender bending trope). Gaughen’s Scarlet is fierce without losing her femininity. I loved how brave she was but also her own internal struggles that gave her character vulnerability. I loved reading from the point of view of someone other than Robin Hood since he is always the character we follow in other interpretations.

I did run into one slight problem that eased as I continued to read–Scarlet speaks (and thinks) in the common tongue which used ‘were’ instead of ‘was’ and other grammatical mistakes. Of course, this was done on purpose to not only help the reader experience the book as a commoner but also to setup the historical date the book takes place in. Each time I came upon a ‘misplaced’ were I was thrown out of the story and had to force myself to not change it to ‘was’ in my head. This might just be me but it did cause a bit of disconnect at first. As I stated though, this issue eased and soon enough I was reading with no issues.

Scarlet was fast paced and the action scenes were written beautifully. I could see the action playing out in my mind which is always a wonderful touch. Not only did Gaughen excel at creating tension in the fighting she was also able to create an emotional pull within her character’s interactions. There is a love triangle but I would say it was written so well I wasn’t bothered by it.

Both relationships felt genuine and relatable. I felt that in Scarlet’s circumstances she would truly have encountered the attention of both men. To me, love triangles feel like a device to keep the two intended apart and to cause tension that otherwise would not exist. In this novel, the tension is ever present without the love triangle being needed. It wasn’t devised to keep anyone apart as much as to show the strain of Scarlet’s life and choices.

The villain of this novel, Gisbourne, was fairly elusive and spoken of more often than seen. I could feel Scarlet’s real fear of him but he fell just short of scaring me or convincing me he would really pose the threat alluded to. I felt that the story itself was fairly obvious as it unfolded but was still gripping to read.

Final Thoughts:
I loved Gaughen’s vision of Robin Hood and characterization of ‘Will’ Scarlet. I felt that she was not only capable of creating tense action scenes but also heartfelt emotional moments. Though I was able to see where the story was going I still enjoyed the journey.

Look for book 2, Lady Thief out February 11 by Walker Childrens
Scarlet Book Trailer


  1. says

    Great review, Kristen!
    I’ve read a few versions of Robin Hood and seen a few movies, of course, and I just cannot wait to read this one eventually (whenever I have an opening in my reading list) cause your review made want to read it and I’ve heard the same thing from other people.

  2. says

    I loved this one and went into the second just *so* hoping it would live up to the first. It completely did. Even better, I thought. And Gisbourne’s character especially is thoroughly filled out.

  3. says

    I just finished this last night! I think a lot of us are reading this to catch up in order to read Lady Thief;-) I basically agree with everything you said. I was a tad disappointed because I had also heard AMAZING things about it, but for me it fell short of amazing. It was REALLY good, but I definitely had some issues with the language (I also got tired of the use of “were” over and over again) and I honestly didn’t like the love triangle much. But what a great concept and Scarlet was such a kick-ass girl! Great review!

    • says

      I’ve read Lady Thief and it builds on the story nicely though it is much harder on the feels. I hope you like it when you get around to reading it. I agree this just feel short of amazing for me.

  4. says

    Amazing review Kristen. <3 I'm glad you mostly loved this book 😀 I did too, though it has been ages since I read it.. must re-read, I think 🙂 I'm glad you were pleased with the triangle thingy. I was not, like always, lol 😀 Anyway. Thank you for sharing your awesome review 🙂

  5. says

    I actually have this on my nook or kindle for the same reason you picked it up. It was on sale and blogger’s were raving about it. Now after reading your review I am excited to dig this one out..I had no idea it was a retelling of Robin Hood…I can see where the speak with throw you, I usually do ok with that and actually start talking like them in my head..I know it;s freaky but I develop an accent along with it.

  6. says

    Ooh, this one sounds epic and fun! I’ve heard of it…I think. I get confused with this one and then Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (which is totally different and I love). But, still! Titles! Gaah. I think I’ll see if my library has it. I love a good Robin Hood retelling. 😉

    • says

      I know…2 wonderful books named Scarlet. I highly recommend them both 🙂 I love the Robin Hood story so am always happy to see any remake/retelling etc.

  7. says

    I’ve been wanting to read this for a while – even more so, after your review. (I’m actually reading another “gender-bending” book right now – Defy – but I think it’s safe to say that Scarlet will be better.) I’m glad to hear that the love triangle was not an issue here!

    Every time I see this cover, I have to ask: Doesn’t she look like Kate Middleton??

  8. says

    I recently bought this on a whim after Christmas =) I love retellings and I’ve heard good things about this series. I don’t usually like love triangles, but sometimes it works out well. I do like having the tension between the love interests with a love triangle, as long as it’s fairly obvious who the intended ending couple will be. If It’s not obvious, I better pick the right one or I may not be a happy camper haha =)

    • says

      haha, me too. Can’t stand when my pick isn’t the mc’s. This one if obvious so it shouldn’t be an issue.. I hope you love it when you read it. I look forward to your review 🙂

    • says

      Reading this made me realize I’m in need of more Robin Hood reworkings or just more in this series soon. I was lucky enough to read Lady Thief and boy was it good. Now the wait for the next will be so long but well worth it I’m sure.

  9. says

    I’d had this one on my TBR for awhile before finally getting to it just a month or so again when it was finally available on audio. (The audio version is GREAT, FYI.) I agree…I don’t think I’ll ever tire of gender-bending. It’s just so much fun to see the shenanigans and consequences it results in, as long as it’s done right. Oh, and I never really thought much of that supposed love triangle either. It was well-written but it actually felt like more of a love T. Anyway, great review…glad we both discovered the awesomeness of this series finally! 😀

    • says

      You’ve read Lady Thief? Man, that one hurt my heart so badly. I can’t wait for book 3. I love how well Gaughen writes and the characters are all very well developed. I was so relieved the ‘love triangle” didn’t bother me. So glad we both loved it too. I’m surprised there aren’t more Robin Hood reworking. I’d love to see a sci-fi Robin Hood (Marissa Meyer…please!)

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