Title: Will in Scarlet
Author: Matthew Cody
Publisher: Knopf Books
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Netgalley E-book ARC
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.
I have always loved fairy tales, Disney movies, and that type of thing, and so when I first decided to read the book, it was the link to Robin Hood, and my memories of watching the Disney version of it, that clinched the decision to crack it open. However, the writing was fantastic and furthered my enthusiasm for the characters and the plot. It made the time fly while I was reading, and I didn’t even notice that I was on the second to last chapter until I accidentally scrolled too far and looked at the bar on the side of the screen that told me I was less than an inch away from the last page (on the scroll bar). It was the kind of book that you can pick up and finish in a day, but love every word on each page.
I think the first thing that captured me was how Will, specifically, was written. He was just a boy, and only just learning how to be a man, and the story is mainly about his coming of age. He is a little lost, a little headstrong, but very determined to figure out not only what is wright, but to actually do it as well. But the story was also about the coming of age of other characters, too – Much, and even grown men like Rob – and how they are still figuring out their true callings. Rob even says, towards the end, “Aren’t we all a little lost […]? But isn’t that why we’re all together?” (193). It is this discovery of self through adventures, dangers, secrets, and friendships that really defines the book, and it was all very well written – sequence, details, characters, format, everything.
Even though the cover art was not the most intriguing aspect of the book, and caused me to think of it as only a middle grade book, the title was what caught my attention in the first place. And as I continued to read, I realized that it wasn’t just a middle grade read. It may have been directed, or originally intended to target middle grade readers, and it would be a great read for them, but it would also entertain young adult readers who love adventure and medieval tales.
The only thing that I will say against the book is that it is a little violent, with a lot of death (but not gruesome or unnecessarily descriptive violence – just fighting and such among outlaws and thieves). Other than this, and the fact that I wish there would be a second book, perhaps about the return of King Richard or Will’s father, Will in Scarlet was excellent and I highly recommend it.