Friday, September 20, 2013

Will in Scarlet

I've never read Robin Hood.  I tried watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves once and fell asleep quickly.  Which is pretty darn sad, because I have a loosely contained mega-crush on Alan Rickman (I mean, seriously, Colonel Brandon?  and have you heard him read Sonnet 130- "My Mistress Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun?" or heard him sing "Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore?" Pure ear bliss).

Everything I know about Robin Hood, I learned from Disney/Roger Miller and Mel Brooks.  Incidentally, my crush in Robin Hood: Men In Tights was not dear Cary Elwes (oh, sweet Wesley), but Will Scarlet...O'Hara.

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody, tells the story of the boy behind the Robin Hood legend.  Will Shackley is a 13-year old boy whose father is on the Crusades with King Richard.  Treason and loyalties cause Will to separate from his mother, and run into Sherwood Forest.  It is there he meets orphan girl (disguised as a boy) Much, the giant John, drunken Rob, and others.  As these bandits band together, we see the rise of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

This was an interesting backstory to the Robin Hood tale.  To be honest I was surprised at how mature it was...not in a sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll kind of way- but the dialogue was very High English, and Will has to approach things like betrayal, revenge, etc.

This is most definitely a "guy" book.  While the language may be a throw-off for more reluctant readers, if you're recommending it throw in the fart jokes and nods to bodily functions.  There's a bit of a love story thrown in, but I could argue it's really just a friendship story (and we are free to speculate where that will go).

The first chapter caught me, as it read similarly to the first chapter in Game of Thrones- wolves, winter, fighting.  Again, though, much more middle-grade appropriate.  There are also some similarities to The Runaway King trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen.  Kind of High Fantasy without any magic/mysticism.

It was interesting to see the development of Robin's band of Merry Men, and Robin himself.  I loved the description of the camp they stayed at, which also caused me to look up Herne the Hunter.  So, I got a double-dose of folklore reading this.

I'd recommend this to any boy (or girl) who likes the tale of Robin Hood: hunting and bows, fighting and swords, and justice versus revenge.  Also anyone who liked the series I mentioned above- Game of Thrones, The Runaway King.

Will in Scarlet is published by Random House Children's.  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 10.08.2013

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