Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Book Revels: SCARLET … plus a new year’s resolution

This caught my eye because AC Gaughan’s SCARLET is a book I really want to get to in 2014. I really love the Robin Hood story, always have, and yes, I know, Robin Hood is hard to do well and retellings usually have problems, particularly with the ending.

Assuming you all read Robin McKinley’s version back when it came out, what did you think of that one? Because I really enjoyed it. It’s my favorite retelling so far. But I didn’t like the way it ended — BUT I do think it is VERY HARD to do the ending of a Robin Hood retelling. I didn’t like the way the original story ended, either, at least not the version I read as a kid. I’m pretty sure I have never liked the ending of any Robin Hood story, ever.

So, anyway, SCARLET by AC Gaughan.

ScarletUS.indd

I don’t think there’s any need to worry about this book’s ending, since I get the impression we don’t get to the ending in this book anyway. Though that just pushes off the problem, of course. Still.

In SCARLET, We’ve got a girl dressed as a boy — you probably know that. That’s a plot element I often enjoy. No doubt you recall that McKinley did that, too, though not with Will Scarlet, and I enjoyed it in her book as well.

Ellie’s review isn’t the first rave I’ve seen. I’ve got this one on my Kindle, I’m pretty sure — unless that is SCARLET by Marissa Meyer, which would be fine, since I want to read that, too. (I could go check, but I’m too lazy to get up and go in the other room and get my Kindle.) I think I would prefer a Robin Hood retelling to a Red Riding Hood retelling — though of course it really depends on the actual story, so I don’t know.

If you retroactively define my reading goal for 2013 as “read through a lot of the extensive backlist of a handful of great writers”, I did that. But it didn’t leave much room for other (hopefully also great) authors. So I think my reading goal for 2014 is to read a lot more new-to-me authors. I’m still surprised I could come up with only eight new-to-me authors for 2013. Eight! Not very impressive.

And after reading Ellie’s review, I’m tempted to start with retellings of folktales and fairy tales that happen to be titled “SCARLET”.

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7 Comments Book Revels: SCARLET … plus a new year’s resolution

  1. Elaine T

    I remember McKinley’s Robin Hood was the first McKinley that I didn’t like. However, I read it back when it came out so, 1988ish, and beyond remembering it as being massively uninteresting, I can’t say much about why it didn’t work. Maybe I should give it another try.

    Reviews of Scarlet are all over the map. I may try it from the library.

    If you want a different take on Robin try to find Parke Godwin’s SHERWOOD and ROBIN & THE KING, wherein the author moves the story back to the 1060s and later, with Robin as Saxon and the Sheriff as Norman invader, and they’re both fleshed out, not to mention eventually related by marriage. And both also eventually mutually frustrated by idiot nobles.

  2. Rachel

    Ah! Yes, I remember Godwin’s SHERWOOD. *That* is the one I didn’t like. As for you, though, it was too long ago for me to remember why I didn’t like it.

  3. Ellie

    Robin McKinley is one of my favorite authors, but I haven’t read her Robin Hood retelling yet. Now that you’ve recommended it, I’m really curious to read it and see how the two versions compare.

    I should make a new-to-me author resolution too. I struggled to come up with ten new authors for 2013. Everyone keeps telling me to read The Lunar Chronicles, but I haven’t gotten around to them yet.

    As to the ending of Scarlet…it’s a series (the second one is Lady Thief and comes out soon), so there are definitely loose ends.

  4. Elaine+T

    I couldn’t read the Godwin last time I picked it up a few months ago, either. Just couldn’t hold my interest. But once upon a time I enjoyed it.

    i will try SCARLET & the McKinley again and report back.

  5. Rachel

    Hah, yes, now I am envisioning something like this: YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT … is to read all Robin Hood retellings and write up a report for the rest of us. That would be a different way to run a book club!

    I wonder how many versions of Robin Hood are out there? And whether any of them has a good ending? I was talking to my brother about this and we agree that Robin Hood MUST remain in the Greenwood, that any ending that involves him making peace with normal society is going to fail. I think it could be done, if you end by having Robin Hood step into myth rather than into normal society. But I’m not sure whether anyone has ever done that.

  6. elaine t

    hah! That could be a fun book group discussion at that. I wonder how many Robin Hood books there are in the YA and adult markets? I just DNF yet another (from the library) not long ago. That one was pure historical in the grimdark vein, I believe. I didn’t get more than a chapter or two read as the long drawn out descriptive passages about sneaking around in the dark and knifing a man put me off.

    I don’t remember any full length treatments that let him stay in the Greenwood, though. Only books where he isn’t the main point, like the SWORD IN THE STONE, where White gave us an episode with him.

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