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- First of all, the cover. Can I even explain how perfect it is? Do you see it there? It is gorgeous! Right down to the details of her eyes and her scar.
- Secondly, I'm a sucker for all things Robin Hood, and my cousin and I have had an ongoing inside joke about Will Scarlet for years. I think I'd had the book all of five minutes before texting her a pic of the cover: How awesome is this? Will Scarlet is a girl! And she looks badass! It's next on my list to read.
- I'm a huge fan of plucky female characters who can handle themselves with weapons. Enter, Scarlet! A.C Gaughen writes her beautifully. Tough, tender, scrappy and stalwart. She's such a fun character to hang out with, and I loved watching her get into (and out of) trouble.
- I'm a character author through-and-through, and characters are the biggest reason I fall in love with books. Every single character here shines. From Rob to John to Tuck to Gisbourne, Gaughen keeps them fresh and real while staying true to the time period and giving a nod to tradition. You can tell she truly loves the Robin Hood legends. This isn't written from a new perspective simply for a twist; everything fits into place and still honors the overall narrative. I cannot tell you how much I love and admire that decision on her part as an author.
- Scar's dialogue. Think Huck Finn meets gritty streets of London. I fell in love with it from page 1, and it added immensely to Scar's character. Such a delight! It made me laugh (and almost cry) multiple times. It never felt heavy-handed, and when it does change, it does so with purpose. Honestly, everyone's dialogue is pretty stellar throughout.
- Gaughen's attention to detail. This book is the rare combination of a wonderful, heartfelt retelling and an author who has mastered her craft to make it sing. There are so many great subtle lines or plot points, and scenes that are so poignant about life's truths without stalling the action. That takes skill, and it was a sheer joy to read.
A.C. Gaughen is a writer I immediately and deeply respect. She does so many things right in this book. She gives us fantastic, vibrant characters and a frankly awesome plot, and does so in a way that leaves a lasting impression and leaves us a little better for having read it. I am counting down the days until the sequel releases next February.