Author: Meagan Spooner
Edition: Hardcover, 467 Pages
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!
*This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*
Initial Thoughts & Pacing
“Robin Hood wasn’t just a man, or the ghost of one. He was a hero. A symbol.”
Ever since I read Meagan Spooner’s Starbound trilogy, she has become one of my favorite authors. And Sherwood is another wonderful addition to Spooner’s collection of novels. So far, I think it is the best Robin Hood retelling I’ve read.
The opening scene of Sherwood drew me in right away, with its shocking depiction of Robin’s death. Yes, that’s right. Robin of Locksley dies. And Maid Marian is left at home to pick up the broken pieces of her heart. A series of events leads Marian to unintentionally become “Robin Hood,” the people’s savior. And I loved this spunky female Hood!
After the opening scenes, the pacing in a large chunk of the first part of the book did slow me down a bit, which is why I’m not giving the book a full 5 stars. Spooner’s writing style is descriptive. The benefit of this writing style is that everything about the world and setting feels quite real, and Spooner certainly has a knack for conveying sensory details. However, I did feel that sometimes there was a lot of description that prevented me from getting to the action. (It’s not until about 200 pages in when Robin’s merry band truly forms and decides to help the poor.) Nevertheless, the second half of the book was sooo good! Once things really got rolling, I was completely engaged in the story and stayed up too late several nights in a row trying to finish it. I was desperate to know how Marian would scheme her way out of tight situations and who would figure out her identity next.
Here is a brief overview of some of the characters. I liked both the main characters and the side characters in this story!
- Marian is our Lady Hood. Pretending to be Robin Hood gives her the freedom that she does not have as herself; society’s expectations for women are not her idea of fun. But she is also no ordinary woman. She is taller than most men, she can shoot a bow better than most men, and she rides a spirited mare named Jonquille. (I love spunky horses!)
- Guy of Gisborne is Robin Hood’s enemy, which makes the relationship between Gisborne and Marian so interesting. He is the Sheriff’s right hand, and on the surface, he appears quite stiff and stern. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the romance. The romance does not begin right away, which makes sense since Marian is still mourning Robin’s death for a long time. But by the end of the book, I was totally rooting for Gisborne and Marian! I do like a dose of romance in the books I read.
- Elena is Marian’s loyal maid, who crosses class boundaries in a sense and becomes close to Marian. Their friendship adds a nice touch to the story.
- Will Scarlet is Elena’s brother, whose plight serves as the initial cause of Marian’s transformation into Robin Hood.
- Little John is one of the outlaws who joins Robin’s band of merry men. Although he is not so “little” in size, he possesses a gentle, kind heart.
- Adam is another outlaw and a former minstrel. He has an unexpected connection to another person in Marian’s life. I loved his theatrical sense of humor!
Perhaps I would’ve wished to see more of the Sheriff, who doesn’t really make a significant appearance until the end of the book.
Overall, Sherwood is a well-crafted retelling, and Spooner blends her own original ideas into the tale quite well. I enjoyed the flashbacks told in the real Robin’s perspective, because they nicely added to the backstory of Robin and Marian’s relationship. I also really appreciated that this book kept me guessing. There really are some good twists thrown in near the end! The ending itself is satisfactory and, for the most part, happy. It perhaps doesn’t answer all questions, but it is enough to let the reader imagine what Marian and Gisborne’s future may hold.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this review was helpful! Has anyone else read Sherwood yet? What did you think?