This third and concluding volume in Gaughen’s retelling of the Robin Hood legend from Marian’s point of view finds Marian (aka Scarlet) facing execution after months of imprisonment by evil Prince John.
She escapes and meets with her grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who asks for her help raising ransom to bring King Richard home, though what Marian longs to do is reunite with her beloved Robin—even though that may put Robin in danger. After Marian saves Eleanor from an ambush, she meets up with Robin in Nottingham. Through a twist of fate, she’s now a powerful lady whose swift rise in status (granted by her father, King Richard) gives her holdings in Nottingham and the social standing to defy Prince John’s cruelty—though she still needs her street-fighting skills to fend off occasional assassins. The plot moves briskly, with an even mix of heart-fluttering love scenes and gritty fight sequences. Following in the tradition of Tamora Pierce’s stories of feisty, kickass heroines and drawing on some factual underpinnings (explained in an engaging author’s note), Gaughen’s tale will satisfy teen readers seeking action-packed romantic adventure set alluringly in another age.
Fans of Scarlet will celebrate both this opportunity to revisit Gaughen’s colorfully depicted long-ago world and her suspenseful ending to a lively story. (Historical fiction. 13-18)