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.
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.
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.
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.
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!