20 October, 2020

[Review] Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Release Date: 19 March, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Folklore/Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Legends/Fairy Tale Retellings
ISBN: 9780062933553
Edition: Paperback (available in hardback, eBook, and audiobook)
Rating: ★★
Review Written: 9 July, 2020
Warnings: Death, Mild Sexual Scenes, Violence
Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancĂ©.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

See more by Meagan Spooner at her website.
Maid Marian is an interesting figure in the Robin Hood legend. Perhaps even more mysterious than Robin himself, Marian has few roots in the original stories, and isn't truly mentioned in a tale until the mid-16th century. In her original roots, Marian was meant as a love interest for Friar Tuck and was originally a shepherdess.

In this fantastic retelling however, Marian steps beyond both her role as a lady within a medieval household and her origins as a shepherdess to become Robin Hood. With the death of her childhood sweetheart and betrothed in the Holy Lands War with King Richard, Marian falls into a deep period of mourning and depression. For a while, she's excused as the manner in which she found out about his death was unorthodox (for she found out when she went to rescue one of Robin's men from the Sherriff); but shortly after the news of his death, Guy of Gisborne begins to attempt to court her.

Fearful for Will Scarlet, the brother of her maid Elana, Marian dons Robin's cloak (stolen from his home) to conceal her identity as she rides into the forest to protect Will from Gisborne. Things go awry however, and Marian is mistaken for Robin by the half-starved Will and the rumors begin. With the sighting of "Robin of the Hood" growing, Marian finds herself stuck with more secrets than she knows what to do with.

As her escapades grow, Marian is forced to decide where the line is. Does she stop after she's freed Will Scarlet or wait until the archery contest so she can win a pardon for at least one of her "merry" men? Should she even tell her men that she isn't Robin but is in fact Marian. The historical nods of the crusades and the rich envelopment of the world was lush and helped. Still, I found parts of the book to be long and dull, parts where Marian was struck by indecision or her moral qualms about a guard she shot to protect her identity.

Also, the romance between Marian and Guy of Gisborne seemed to drag. She hates him but she doesn't, she eventually learns that he's not as terrible as she originally believed. Their pairing at the end of the book made some sense, but in the long haul it felt forced (which I guess arranged marriages are like that). Overall, I enjoyed the retelling despite the dragging plot line and the feeling of not quite everything being resolved with the slightly lackluster ending. I will still be keeping my eye out for more from Meagan Spooner.

If you enjoy this novel, you might enjoy Meagan Spooner's other fairy tale retelling Hunted. Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast Retelling that is set in Eastern Europe (Russia).

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