A C GAUGHEN
SERIES: Scarlet #2
REPRESENTATION: Amputee Side Character (Hand)
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Historical, Retelling – Robin Hood
TRIGGER WARNINGS: Violence, attempted assault (more details in review)
Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves.
Lady Thief gets off to rather a slow start. The first part of the novel deals with the gang’s reactions to the events of Scarlet — mostly how Robin’s PTSD is affecting them, and how he’s lashing out at Scarlet. The novel really kicks off when Gisbourne turns up and offers to annul his marriage to Scarlet on the condition she moves into the castle and essentially pretends to be his wife for the duration of Prince John’s upcoming visit.
I thought Scarlet was pretty fast-paced and action-packed, but it really has nothing on Lady Thief once it gets going. There is so much happening once Scarlet gets the castle — political intrigue, tension between Scarlet and Gisbourne, and Prince’s tournament, and the dangers court politics put Scarlet in. Lady Thief also gives us the quintessential Robin Hood scene/event (aside from robbing the rich): the archery Ocontest.
There were some great new characters introduced. We briefly get to see Alan-a-Dale, and while I didn’t really like Prince John, I thought that the addition of Eleanor of Aquitaine was brilliant. Sadly she’s the only other female character that really gets developed in this series… but I loved her. She’s a strong woman who you can see knows how to play the card she’s been dealt, and I think if she’s back in the third book she could be really helpful to teaching Scarlet how to wield influence.
I really do like this entire section of the book. I thought it was compelling and interesting. What I will say is that while the action jumps up, the graphic content skyrockets as well. If you are uncomfortable this sort of thing you probably want to proceed with caution. Off the top of my head, there’s domestic violence, (from both Robin and Guy towards Scarlet), an attempted sexual assault, suicide, maiming and lots of general violence and misogyny. Basically Scarlet’s have an incredibly rough time of it.
The one thing that frustrated me so much do this novel though was that I just wish Scarlet was smarter.
We’re constantly told how clever she is, how she’s always got a plan, how she’s this criminal mastermind. But you see none of this in this novel. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Once she agrees to the ruse with Gisbourne, you’d think that she’d want to endear herself to him, if at all possible. After all, the annulment depends entirely on his vouching for her. Instead, she spends every moment they’re together riling him up. I’m not saying he’s any better and, considering their history, I can totally see where she’s coming from. It is exciting to watch them bicker, but it seems completely against her own self-interest. Even more so than that, she’s downright rude and insolent towards Prince John. Considering that she spent her entire childhood, up to marriageable age, been raised as a high-born Lady, there’s no way that she wouldn’t understand court politics and court manners. The fact that she speaks and acts this way not just to a gentleman of the court, but the prince himself, just seems so poorly thought out and naive.
I would have liked to have seen her show a little more political acumen. Maybe occasionally hiding what she’s feeling and actually playing the game. I’m hoping that as the third book moves little further into the political world, we might see something like that.
Despite all my misgivings, I read this in one day and I am really keen to read the next book so the author’s clearly doing something right.