Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: June 7th 2012
My Goodreads Rating: 1/5
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.

Oh boy.

I know a lot of people that have read Scarlet and a lot of people that LOVED it. So I guess this mini paragraph is my way of saying that you MIGHT love this book? And you MIGHT think Scarlet is an awesome heroine? And you MIGHT not want to tear your hair out while reading it?

If you loved Scarlet and you cannot handle a bad word said about it, look away now.

If you enjoyed it but are happy to discuss it with somebody that really did not then PLEASE stay. Because I would love for somebody to help me see why this book isn’t awful?

I’m just going to quickly touch on a few issues I had that have nothing to do with representation.

-          There was no world-building at all. Actually, there was hardly any description ever. The only reason I had any sort of vague image in my mind is because I am well versed in Robin Hood tales.

-          Scarlet’s voice was frustrating. I didn’t mind it to read…the problem was that it didn’t make sense? It was entirely unbelievable that she spoke that way so naturally in my opinion, especially considering that characters like Much and John spoke better than she did.

-          The big mystery of Scarlet’s identity was obvious to me from the second page. So it became incredibly tedious to see said mystery drawn out. Obviously this might not be an issue for everybody, but it made it difficult for me.

Now, to the representation because that's why we're here! As far as I can tell, issues of race and sexuality are never touched on. There was one moment when a female character kisses Scarlet because she believes Scarlet is a boy. This was treated as a joke and did not have any deeper meaning.

I’m not going to lay into the book too hard for this lack of representation though. Don’t get me wrong, the author could have found a way to work it in. But it’s not a fantasy novel, it’s based on a historic setting in Medieval Britain. Of course people like to pretend that different races and sexualities did not exist in Medieval Britain, which is clearly untrue. But FINE, the author decided to focus on gender. I’m cool with that. So let’s talk about it.


The first thing to mention is that Scarlet is really the only female character of note throughout the book. The only others I can think of that had anywhere near productive roles were Lena and Ravenna. Both of whom don’t really do much, and Ravenna’s ending actually made me stop reading in a fit of rage. There is also Joanna, but she’s already dead so yay.

Scarlet herself did not do anything for me. I didn’t mind her early on, but being stuck inside her head quickly became repetitive and frustrating.

I personally didn't like how against being feminine and girly she was. Obviously she wasn't completely against it because she loves her hair, but this very much read to me as 'strong female character because she isn't like other girls'. I think I may not have felt this way had there been other characters around to balance Scarlet out. That said, her 'strength' much like her voice was completely unbelievable given her background. When did she get so good? How did she get so good?

The absolute most frustrating part of this book was the love triangle and it got worse and worse as the book went on I hated Scarlet's relationship with John. I hated how she just let him be however he wanted, and do whatever he wanted. of course she had her moments when she said no or she threatened to punch him, but even when she said yes her thoughts were so frustrating. I don't understand WHY there ever needed to be a love triangle. Her feelings for John were all but non existent so why did she as a 'strong female' have it go on so long?

And then there was Robin. For a large part of the book he seems a much better option and it's clear that Scarlet loves him. but my LORD...her continuous insistence that he could never possibly love her drove me up the wall, because it was so obvious? Honestly, Scarlet was so unsure and wishy washy ALL. THE. TIME. ABOUT. EVERYTHING.

And THEN when Scarlet's secret comes out and Robin finally lets slip that he does love her..........HE CALLS HER A WHORE!!!!!!!!!!




It was at this point that this book became a chore for me to finish. There was some action at the end which was all so stupid...I mean....MARRIAGE? Marriage was how Scarlet managed to trick Gisbourne and sort of save the day? Of course it was.

Honestly. I haven't raged so much over a book in ages.

To sum it up: Scarlet is harmless enough at first, but it's really ONLY about the love triangle which becomes tiresome FAST. I didn't enjoy any of the relationships, and eventually each of them made me full on furious. All the characters were dumb and annoying. Do not recommend. However, everyone else seems to love it so maybe it's just me.

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