Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

ScarletUS.inddScarlet (Scarlet #1) by A. C. Gaughen, published in 2012 by Walker Children’s.

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Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA historical.

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. (Goodreads)


My rating: 4.5/5.

Sheesh. It’s been a month since I read this gorgeous book and I’m only now sitting down to write a proper review. It’s partly due to my general laziness and also to the fact that I’m having trouble putting my thoughts in order. That sometimes happens with good books.

Scarlet is a Robin Hood retelling. That much was clear from the blurb, as was the fact that (Will) Scarlet, Robin’s loyal companion, is actually a girl. Or a young woman, rather. She hides her girly bits under a boy’s clothing and her hair under a hat. She’s really, really handy with knives and has a heart of gold she’s afraid to show for fear of being thought weak. I liked her immensely.

This is the first part of a trilogy, so it’s only the beginning of a story, but there’s plenty of action to go around. I was familiar with the basic legend about Robin Hood (or is it really a legend? Hmm…), but then I think most people nowadays are, what with the movies and cartoons and all. We meet all the well-known characters: Robin, John, Tuck (who’s a barkeep here instead of a monk), the Sheriff of Nottingham, of course, and the evil Gisbourne who has a history with Scarlet that she doesn’t want to share with anyone.

I really enjoyed the group dynamics of Robin’s band of misfits. The guys keep trying to protect Scarlet (mostly from herself, she’s a bit impulsive), she keeps doing her own thing – and damn the consequences. But they all genuinely care for each other, that much was clear.

There’s a bit of romance, naturally, since Scarlet is crushing on Robin but doesn’t want him to know. Also, John kind of wants to be with her, but it’s not very serious as he’s a favourite of a number of local ladies. It seems like a love triangle, but it’s not that important, which is cool since I can’t really stomach any more of them. It’s interesting, though, that while Robin is a very nice love interest, he’s not the most important aspect of Scarlet’s story – a refreshing turn from the majority of YA novels with a romantic theme.

The ending really made me want to roll around, moaning (that’s a pretty picture) – it’s surprising: not quite a cliff hanger but strong enough to definitely keep me interested in the story.

Lastly, I want to mention the language – the novel is written from Scarlet’s perspective and she has this very conversational voice, rough around the edges and full of her innermost thoughts (if that makes sense). It might not be your cup of tea but I loved it.

This is one very strong beginning of a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on Lady Thief and Lion Heart (coming in May). Scarlet has taken a place among my favourite heroines and I really want to see how she’ll deal with the events to come.


Have you read Scarlet? Or maybe Lad Thief as well? What did you think?

Do you have any other favourite Robin Hood retelling?


  • I’ve heard such amazing things about Scarlet, and I’m a total Robin Hood Obsessed person. I even bought this book a few years ago. And yet, I still haven’t read it. I seriously need to fix that. So glad that you enjoyed this. Maybe this will be the push for me to actually read this one.

    • Well if you have it already, I’d give it a try! It’s a very quick read, perfect for a night or two :) I’m curious to see what you make of it.

  • Ooh, I’ve been thinking of reading this. I love Robin Hood stories — studied the oldest ones we have in my degree! — and retellings…

    • It’s pretty cool :) I’m not a huge specialist on the matter, because my degree was more in French medieval lit – but hey, I watched the Disney movie so that counts for something, right? ;) (And Men in Tights, of course.)
      I like retellings that actually CHANGE things and don’t just tell the same story in different words.

  • Gah! I think I’m the only blogger left that has yet to read this gem! I actually (finally) got myself a copy over the Holidays, so I’m hoping to get to it soon. I LOVED your review for it, it made me want to pick it up even sooner :) Scarlet sounds like just the kind of heroine I’d LOVE. The action sounds like my cup of tea as well and I like that the romance isn’t central to the plot – AND that the kind of love-triangle isn’t really…if that makes sense LOL! Wonderful review Kaja^^

    • Thanks! :)
      Naw, I was also late to the party. I’m waiting for book 2 to release in paperback so my copies will match (and I have a ton of other books to read).
      I was reluctant to start this series because of all the hype – and it’s not really fantasy, which is my preferred genre, but a historical novel, but I’m really glad I did!

  • I do want to read this, and I’m encouraged that the romance and triangle isn’t very front-and-center. (I’ve about had it with triangles, too.) In YA, I prefer the romance to be secondary to the plot!

    • I agree, I love character- and plot-driven YA novels. I just feel that 17-year-olds falling in love that’s SO TRAGIC and EVERLASTING is a bit funny (but then I remember how I felt about my love life when I was 17 and I sort of understand). But as an adult reading YA, I definitely prefer romance to be just ONE of the topics.