Book Review- Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
There are so many Robin Hood tales that have been written over the years. Will in Scarlet stands out as a great book for middle graders. The books tells the story of Will Scarlet like you have never seen him before.. a rich noble. His story is the main focus of the book in this coming of age Robin Hood tale.
Told in more of a historical fiction fashion, we get a glimpse of life for both Nobles and peasants during the crusade. While King Richard is off fighting an almost endless war his people are starving and his brother Prince John is bleeding the country dry. Will is oblivious to these adult troubles would rather spend his days stealing from the castle store rooms and wrecking havoc with friends. He is forced to grow up when the treacherous Sir Guy ignites a political quarrel that forces Will into exile. He finds himself at the mercy of Sherwood forest and the villainous “Merry Men”.
All the tradition characters are present in this book- Little John, Rob the drunk, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Much the girl disguised as a boy. Instead of a tale told strictly about Robin himself we get a wonderful story of Will Scarlet and Much. Will struggles with revenge, loss and seeing how the world really works from the eyes of the common man. He develops deep friendships and learns what his role is in the grand scheme of life.
I really liked this book and getting to read the perspectives of both Will and Much. Most of the female characters in Robin Hood books are only there for the romance aspect. Much is a much needed female protagonist that is spunky and strong willed. Their story is something that middle grade readers will be able to enjoy and relate to as both characters are forced to make sometimes hard choices that will define their lives.
There is laughter heartache and lots of adventure that both boys and girls will enjoy. The story is rich and engaging and reads almost like a movie. It is a book that you won’t quickly put down, especially towards the end. I cannot wait to add this to our collection and I know my students who love action and adventure will eat this up. This is one of the best takes on the Robin Hood story for younger readers in recent memory. I hope to see more by this author in the future.