Thirteen year old Will Shackley is the son of a lord. But his father is fighting in the crusades with King Richard the Lionheart and his home becomes a site for a local power struggle. Young Will is no match for those uprooting the communities and so he flees into the nearby Sherwood Forest where he becomes acquainted with a group of bandits. The outlaws are suspicious of Will, dressed in fine clothes, and prepare to dispatch him when he offers them access to riches in his family home. Slowly Will earns the trust of the Sherwood Forest outlaws so that he becomes one of their gang.
This was a really solid story.
The characters, of course, are familiar to most as the people in the Robin Hood myths – they are all here: Little John, Robin, Much, the Sheriff of Nottingham. But author Matthew Cody lets us see them through the eyes of one of the other, often unexplored characters. This is a not an uncommon method, but it works so brilliantly here. We not only get the Robin Hood myth, but we get a deeper understanding of some of the other characters.
One of the interesting and clever changes to the myths (and the myths themselves are slightly different with each retelling through the ages) is with Much the Miller’s Son. Here Much is a girl in disguise (for her own safety, of course) and perhaps more suspicious of Will than the others (her secret has often led to her being more aware of the people around her). But Much and Will will manage to find common ground.
Cody delivers just the right amount of action in this middle grade read, combining clever story-telling with the action today’s readers expect to keep them engaged. This is an all-around winner and although it’s been out for a few years now, this is the sort of book one can point to when a reluctant young reader wants something.
Looking for a good book? Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody is a strong middle grade read with familiar characters from a unique point of view and plenty of action.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Will in Scarlet
author: Matthew Cody
publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
hardcover, 272 pages