Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Scarlet Audio

Scarlet Audio

A.C. Gaughen
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (Digital)
Performed/read by: Helen Stern
Audible, 2013 

A few years ago, in the great city of London, Scarlet tried to rob a gentleman. Instead of punishing her or turning her into the authorities, the gentleman, Robin of Locksley, took pity on her and offered her protection. He had just returned from the crusades, where he had fought for King Richard. Robin came home when he was informed that his father had died, and when he arrived the young man found out that Prince John had accused Robin’s father, the Earl Huntington, of treason and had taken all of his lands. Robin is rightfully the earl, but since all his ancestral lands and possessions have been taken from his family, he is homeless and penniless.

   The Sherriff of Nottingham now rules, like a little king, over the people who were once protected by Robin’s family. The people are taxed so heavily that they have nothing left and they starve. If they cannot pay the sheriff’s taxes they are imprisoned or worse. Many of the villagers poach to put food on their tables and if they get caught they are imprisoned or maimed.

   Determined to do everything to help “his people,” Robin has formed a small band of outlaws who ‘tax’ rich travelers who travel through Sherwood Forest. The takings are then distributed among the poor people in the county. In addition, Scarlet, who is a skilled thief, steals food and clothing for the villagers. She and Robin also hunt in the forest and give the meat to the needy.

   Robin and his men, John, Much, and Tuck, are the only ones who know that Will Scarlet is not a boy. She is in fact a young woman who refuses to tell anyone her real story, which she keeps to herself. She prefers her own company and separates herself from others by being grumpy and disagreeable.

   The Sherriff of Nottingham has raised taxes again and Robin and his associates have no idea how they are going to raise all the funds they need to help the villagers. When the sheriff starts taking children hostage when their parents don’t pay up, the outlaws are forced to be even more daring, and Scarlet sneaks into the sheriff’s castle to rescue a child who has been taken.

   The new tax is bad, but what makes things even worse is that the sheriff has brought a thief catcher from London to help him catch Robin and his followers. The catcher, Guy of Gisbourne, has a terrible reputation. Scarlet has encountered the man before and is terrified of him, knowing that if he catches her he will probably kill her.

   With carefully crafted characters, touches of romance, and a thrilling story full of surprises, this retelling of the tale of Robin Hood will delight listeners who have an interest in historical fiction. The story is not just entertaining. It also presents a realistic picture of that it was like to live in England during the reign of King Richard, a time when the rich and powerful abused and misused the common people.