cover image Scarlet


A.C. Gaughen. Walker, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8027-2346-8

Gaughen debuts with an inspired reimagining of the Robin Hood tale, one narrated by "Scarlet," a girl, and the love interest of 21-year-old "Rob." As in the original, the band of thieves steals from the wealthy to provide to the poor, with help from rascally John Little and other minor miscreants. When the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire hires Lord Gisbourne, a "Thief Taker," to aid him in his tax-collecting mission, Rob and his outlaws fight to stop them before the hangings begin. Tough-minded, independent, and guilt-ridden, Scarlet is an expert thief and knife fighter, who offers detailed and rousing accounts of her feats ("I threw him to the side, and his blade grazed my leg.... His head hit the ground hard, and I didn't %E2%80%98spect him to get up anytime soon"). But she also lies about her traumatic past and hides her vendetta against Gisbourne, putting everyone at risk. Gaughen creates a believable character in Scarlet, a fierce but feeling heroine surviving in an inequitable and unruly society. Alternating action sequences with dramatic emotional encounters, this restaging suggests that the bravest acts may be to trust and love. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Minju Chang, BookStop Literary. (Feb.)