Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Books I Thought I Would Hate: The Scarlet Trilogy

Lion Heart came out in May, and guess who preordered it and still has to wait until October? This person, who said to package orders in the same box. And as much as I love Leigh Bardugo’s books I am beginning to resent Six of Crows for plugging up my other books. *growls*

I really enjoy A.C. Gaughen’s retelling of the Robin Hood story, and even had the pleasure of attending a Skype conference where she spoke at my library! I still look forward to reading Lion Heart (when it gets here…) and the next project she releases.

via Goodreads
However, it’s funny, because my relationship with her books did not start that way. In fact, my relationship with her books almost never happened at all.

Why I Thought I’d Hate It:

I don’t know if your library does that thing where they give a free book to summer readers, but my library does. And in the year in question (two or three ago, I think) there was an awful selection of books. I don’t even remember what they were, I just knew I wasn’t impressed with any of them.

But hey. I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to get a free book, so I grabbed one that looked like it didn’t completely suck. Scarlet, by A.C. Gaughen. I mean, if worse came to worse, the cover was very soft and I could rub my face against it in times of sorry or emotional duress. You know, from other books that would make me cry.

I threw it in my TBR pile and forgot about it for months. There I assumed it would stay.

via Goodreads

What Changed:

I’ve relayed this in A Screaming Story (which, by the way, spoils a really climactic part of the book; oops), but in essence, I decided I needed to crack down on my TBR and I picked up Scarlet again. Fully expecting to throw it into the “donate” pile, I opened the book and fell. Hard.

Oh, yes, I loved that book. I think I stayed up super late that Saturday night, and toted it to church the next morning so I could ignore my peers before the service. Once of my peers, who refused to be ignored, stole the book from me at said climactic part and that resulted in some screaming and weird looks.

But, I read it.

via Goodreads

Why It Turned Out I Loved It:

I imagine there are a bunch of people who hate Scarlet’s voice, but despite her (intentionally) poor grammar, there’s something musical and passionate to the way she speaks. She grabs your hand so you’re right beside her as she faces the evil and the fear and the tension.

And Scarlet is cool. Even though the “Merry Men” are the main characters, it never feels like Scarlet is isolated to that group. One reason you invest your emotions in the story is because they witness firsthand the common person’s suffering. They’re in town, in people’s homes, in the tavern—they aren’t just bandits camping in the woods; they’re part of the community, and one small spark of hope they have left.

But on that note, A.C. Gaughen manipulates my emotions horribly. I was ready to go back in time and murder Prince John, the [CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED] of England, who deserved to be dragged across asphalt until his innards fell out, spend hours making an intimate acquaintance with vultures, and then be exploded. Twice. AND HE WENT ON TO BE KING. FREAKING KING. OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY.

Agh.

I don’t resent these emotions. I mean, part of the reason we read is because it is fun to manipulate your emotions with books, and secondly, Scarlet gives me a heart for history. Textbooks can tell you what happened, but they’re rather passionless accounts.

Even if Robin Hood, our hero, never existed, I still know that ordinary people were affected by the politics of the time. They suffered. And maybe the story didn’t happen, I’m sure it’s still true. If not, why would I care, much less know, that the Magna Carta was ever signed?

Yeah. So basically, emotions, history, caring. It was all awesome.


The moral of this story is don’t assume that a book sucks just because you’ve never heard of it before, and that none of the books surrounding it look appealing, either. As I learned, there’s a chance that you’re wrong. I’m certainly happy with how Scarlet turned out!

Did you think that you were going to hate Scarlet when you first read it? How did the book compare with your expectations?

12 comments :

  1. I'll admit it -- this is one of those books that I've always seen in the library and always given the suspicious sideways glance that I give books I keep seeing but think will be lame. I haven't ever picked it up, because as a side note Robin Hood is definitely not my favorite thing ever (don't ask why; childhood me was very annoyed by this set of stories for some reason), but I do agree that there are lots of books that we look at that way and then really enjoy. So maybe I'll give it a try, after all.

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    1. *nods* I am more than guilty of giving books a lot of judgment due to their covers, but if Robin Hood isn't your thing, then perhaps you wouldn't enjoy it, after all. Still, it surprised me, so if you pick it up, I hope you enjoy it, too!

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  2. Scarlet has been on my TBR list for ages--I love Robin Hood retellings, but it's hard to find good ones. And I happen to love voices with intentionally poor grammar (assuming there's a good reason for it). They sound very real too me. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation--I'll have to check it out now!

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    1. Ooh! Then I'd definitely give Scarlet a try! There is a very good reason behind Scarlet's grammar (although, fair warning, that reason doesn't become apparent until book two). It does add a huge element of realism to me. If you check it out, be sure to update me on whether or not you like it!

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  3. Well, this is going on my (quickly lengthening) TBR list! It looks good-- although, the bad grammar thing makes me wary. Sometimes that really annoys me.
    Lily @ Life of Lily

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    1. Well, since I don't know much about your grammar preferences I can't give you much warning, other than it has its own significance. If you read it and like it, be sure to update me! :)

      Thanks for reading, Lily!

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  4. I've never heard of this book before. But it sounds really good. Especially since it's a Robin Hood retelling! Robin Hood is one of my favorites. Maybe I'll spot it in the library next time I go.

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    1. Well, I hope it rises to your expectations! I wasn't really into Robin Hood retellings, and now I have read it and I just love it. :D If you read it, be sure to update me!

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  5. Oh! I've seen so many reviews of this, but couldn't convince myself to give it a try. It just looks... not that great. And I don't know if that's me being judgemental or something, but it's just an impression I get. However... You have convinced me to broaden my horizons and give Scarlet a try. I can't say I'm particularly interested in the Robin Hood vibe (when you have to study it for YEARS on end as part of your history curriculum, you kind of lose interest, sadly), but we'll see. Thank you for the recommendation, Heather!
    Beth x
    www.thequietpeople.com

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    1. Well, all books are under a preference-based judgement system, so perhaps it isn't for you. However, if you do get around to it, be sure to update me on what you think! Hopefully it isn't as old as your history curriculum. :( Thanks for reading, Beth!

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  6. Oooh, this book looks interesting. And I love your rant about Prince/King John. I definitely wouldn't want you as court executioner if I were in trouble with the law. :p Seriously, though, your library is the best. Mine has a little dinky selection, and it doesn't give out free books. (On the plus, side, though, it does sell some used ones for really low prices, so there's that.)

    I'm glad Scarlet turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

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    1. KING JOHN JUST SUCKS OF SUCKING. AGH. Anyway, yes, I do love my library, and it's good that yours has a bookstore! Mine does too, and they're a good place for books. :)

      Thanks for reading, Liz!

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