Scarlett Josephine McCain, of unknown age (but probably somewhere between 15 and 18 years old) is wanted by the militias of twenty Surviving Towns. She has robbed banks across Wessex, Mercia, and Wales. She has prospected for gold in the Menai Hills; and she killed the outlaw Black Carl Nemaides. To say that she is able to take of herself is putting it mildly. She doesn’t need anyone else looking out for her and certainly she doesn’t need to be responsible for anyone else.
Enter Albert Browne. A young boy that Scarlett happened on in a bus crash and he was the only survivor. But surviving the crash was only the beginning. As dusk approaches the dangers increase – from wild animals to The Tainted – and Scarlett grudgingly allows Albert to tag along as she continues on her wayward journey.
But Albert isn’t an ordinary teen/pre-teen boy and the bus accident maybe wasn’t an accident. But could a quiet, unassuming boy have anything to do with it? Scarlett and Albert become unlikely partners, protecting one another as a very dominant threat is constantly at their heels.
I think that Jonathan Stroud is one of the greatest, dark fantasy YA writers currently working. One of my sons and I regularly walk through the children’s section of bookstores specifically to see if there’s a new Jonathan Stroud book. Admittedly, our fascination with Stroud’s work is based solely on the Lockwood & Co. series. But based on this, we’ll have a new series to follow now.
One of the really fun aspects here is that we are introduced to Scarlett in a very exciting opening, and we’re given a lot of clues as to her character and we pretty much know everything we need to know about her within the first chapter or two. Some of her history comes out as we go, but her general character is clear right off the bat.
Albert, on the other hand, we know nothing about and this book, while a wild adventure, is a long character-building story, revealing a little more and then a little more about him. I honestly hadn’t anticipated this, but it really enhanced my enjoyment of the book.
Scarlett becomes the protective big sister with some mad fighting skills and we readers are cheering for her all along the way. That seems a little odd, when you consider she’s robbing banks sometimes, but Stroud does really well to makes sure we understand that it really is the jerks who are getting their come-uppance and not the average guy on the street.
This is an all-around fun read.
Looking for a good book? The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud is a nice blend of fantasy & supernatural along with heart-racing adventure. If you know any child (or even adult) who loves well-written fiction in this vein, they’ll love this book.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne
author: Jonathan Stroud
series: The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne #1
publisher: Walker Books
paperback, 400 pages