Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8, 2013
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Will Scarlet is on the run.
Once the sheltered son of nobility, Will has become an exile. While his father, Lord Shackley, has been on the Crusades with King Richard, a treacherous plot to unseat Richard has swept across England, and Shackley House has fallen.
Will flees the only home he’s ever known into neighboring Sherwood Forest, where he joins the elusive gang of bandits known as the Merry Men. Among them are Gilbert, their cruel leader; a giant named John Little; a drunkard named Rob; and Much, an orphan girl disguised as a bandit boy.
This is the story of how a band of misfit outlaws become heroes of legend - thanks to one brave 13-year-old boy.
This retelling of Robin Hood doesn’t centre on Robin Hood, but the boy who helped him become the hero he is known today. Will Scarlet is a young boy who is struggling with growing up. He’s no longer a boy, but not yet a man. While Will’s father is away fighting in King Richard’s crusade, Sir Guy over takes the Shackley castle. Will is able to escape and winds up in the middle of the Merry Men’s camp. There Will pretends to be a servant’s son to save his own life.
Will in Scarlet was definitely a different kind of retelling of Robin Hood. You don’t meet Robin (or Rob in this case) for a while, and when you do he is one hot mess! Rob is constantly drunk and doesn’t care about anyone or anything beyond his next drink. I wasn’t very much into this book, until Rob was introduced, then I was intrigued. A drunk Robin Hood? Yes please. The brief story of why Rob was drunk all the time makes me want a sequel. Who doesn’t want a good love story?
The man seemed determined to drink himself into the grave, and Much couldn’t think of anything sadder than that.
The friendship between Rob, John, and Much was really sweet. I really liked seeing the beginning of the legend take place. You know that Rob is going to have his band of Merry Men, but how did he get there?
I’ve decided what we do. We robbed this silver from the rich…so now we’ll give it to the poor!
By the end of the tale Will, Much, and Rob has all grown into better characters. I liked how the author left the ending about leaving the past in the past and that you are who you are now.
Will stood staring for a time at Rob. He’d misjudged the man. He’d thought him a drunk and a scoundrel, but in the days since, he’d come to realize he was something more. Still a scoundrel, yes, and certainly a drunk, but there was something else in him, a king of strength that made others listen when he spoke. It was a quality Will’s father had possessed, one that Will had dreamed of having. Will wondered what it was that made Rob him it in himself so.
If you’ve looking for a Robin Hood retelling this might not be what you are exactly looking for, but it’s definitely worth a read. Will In Scarlet is more of a loose retelling of the legend.
But trust me, he’s the stuff legends are made of.