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ARC Review: Scarlet

my thoughts in a few sentences: OW. I just kicked myself for ignoring this book for as long as I did. Scarlet is such a beautiful, perfect story jam-packed with action like you wouldn't believe and a romance that... I seem to have lost my words trying to convey the depth and exquisiteness of the tricky, confusing romance found within the pages of this story, not to mention the dark and raw characterizations that overcame me and devastated my heart. When will I be going on another adventure? I demand more!

hooking first lines: "No one really knows 'bout me. I'm Rob's secret, I'm his informant, I'm his shadow in dark places."

Rating: Special Shelf | Walker/Bloomsbury • NetGalley • Historical Fantasy • 2/14/12 • about $12

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 didn't grow up with Robin Hood. I'd heard of him, sure, but the only interpretation I could recall was the pompous ass they made out of the legendary character in Shrek. I roughly knew the story, the basic details of the legend, but I didn't know much about it in-depth. I'm ecstatic that this Rob is the very first one I encountered, because every one of the past—had I read earlier versions—would've been nothing more than a pale comparison. Where do I even begin? I'm almost scared to attempt to describe Scarlet's absolute and unquantifiable exquisiteness.

How long has it been since a rag-tag group of phenomenal characters came to your attention? Well, meet Scarlet. And Rob, John, and Much. If you're not familiar with the general tale of Robin Hood, the whole concept behind the legend is a mysterious man, who is worshiped by the people, steals from the rich to give to the poor. But, I'd find that an unbelievably difficult, near-impossible task for one man alone. And so we have Rob and his band of thieves. Scarlet is the latest addition to the team, coming to them an impeccable thief able to teach the perfect maneuvers and to pick out the best targets. She has a rough commoner accent that leaks into her narrative—which is a bit jarring initially but grows on you, another detail to a fabulous heroine—and is wicked with knives. A girl packed with so much emotion and secrets, one who carries a deeply scored heart but has so much compassion and bravery that she never ceases to amaze us with her unyielding generosity. Better yet, she has excellent taste in men—oh, ROB—but is endearingly naive to the workings of the male mind, which tends to be the cause of delicious frustration. She knows her own mind, is completely headstrong, and she serves as a wonderful heroine to look up to, especially when we consider the time period. This heroine is far from overshadowed by her leading man, no matter how INSANELY fascinating, gorgeous, and lovable he is.

The emotion laced into the pages is so powerful, brimming over in scenes which we choke back horror and exude sympathy for starving people, broken families, and piercing sacrifices that make us hurt all the more. And each turn of the pages leads to a new striking plot development that breaks our tremulous control on our own emotions, as they overwhelm their drawers and leak into reality (igniting the stares of our fellow classmates and that cute guy friend who decides to ask us what we're reading), causing us to grip our e-readers with white knuckles. Yet there is that brilliant spark of hope as well. The battling—as in knife throwing, flying arrows, severe punches, and hacking swords—is equally darkly thrilling and tension-inducing, as we care to a ridiculous degree for these characters, and we gather a fierce urge to break out our GO TEAM! sweatshirts.

But the slippery, syrupy romance takes the cake. Weirdly enough we DON'T whip out the rifles when an inkling of a love triangle catches our notice, because, deep down, we know who Scarlet really belongs with, a conclusion that strikes her down in the most brutally stunning and exciting way, as we've been waiting for her to make that realization FOREVER. It isn't even worthy of spoilers; it has to be experienced.

I have no idea if Scarlet will develop into a series—goodreads and the author's website are being annoyingly close-mouthed about it—but I fervently hope so, because I don't know how much longer I can last without this gang and their ballsy plots to end wrongs and manipulate situations so that the right win out. I'm totally book bullying you people: buy it. NOW!!

EDIT: After discussing it with my mom, who IS familiar with Robin Hood, much more than I, if you're a fan, you will definitely pick up on the references and delight in the twists the author has created. It made the book that much cooler for me when I learned more about him.

I did as much as I could, but it weren't like I could get everyone something every night. That seemed like the cruelest part. I tried not to think 'bout the people that woke up and rushed to the door and didn't find nothing; it made my chest hurt. (4%)

I hung there, under the water. My eyes were closed and my skin went fair numb. My lumps and slices went to ice. There were no room for nothing in my mind but cold.
When I pulled out of the water, heaving shivery breaths on the shore, I were fearless. (17%)

Okay, so maybe I'll get a little spoilery, but it's worth it:
Loving him felt like drowning in his ocean eyes, like a tide I couldn't hold back, crashing on me again, filling me up with hurt and shame and despair. Standing so close to him, all I could think were the hundred things I should have told him long ago. A hundred moments I'd lost because I were scared and weak and shameful. It were fair twisted, but maybe doing this, maybe this sacrifice would make me, for one breath, the person he could love. (89%)


Angie McDowell said...

GAH! I need to read this! The library doesn't have it yet but I may just break down and purchase this one without reading. Your review just pushed me over the edge. Great write up! :)

Asher_Knight said...

OH, YES, I'm so happy, Angie. I'm happy for me but I'm even more HAPPY FOR YOU, because everyone (esp. historical fantasy lovers) needs to read this book! I quite completely adored the hell out of it. 

Mimi Valentine said...

Oh my gosh, every time I hear more about this book, I want to read it even more!! <3 To be honest, I don't know much about Robin Hood either (except what I've learned from allusions from books that made me love him LOL!), but I love his story and I'm sure I'm going to love this book! Knives, arrows, punches, and swords?? I LOVE it!! x)

Really awesome, Asher! LOL the peer pressure is totally getting to me -- I definitely need to get this one ASAP! ;)

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, Mimi, just give in. You'll feel better for it. At the very least you'll fall in love with the characters and we can gush over them together ;)

Nea Barabea said...

ok, seriously? I need to pick this book up!!! ;)

Asher_Knight said...

 *nods solemnly* Like, yesterday.

Giselleco said...

Aww lovely review Asher I've been meaning to order this one. I keep seeing it's fabulous and I love books with palpable emotions like this.

Annettes said...

I already have this one on my list, but I really enjoyed your review and I can't wait to read this!

Asher_Knight said...

 YAY, another person excited to read this! I hope you experience drop of its amazingness :D