The YA imprint and miniscule dimensions of this book give it the appearance of being lightweight, but that would be a mistaken impression. It is adult, if not graphically so, and although it is short, it is packed with complexity of texture and character development.
I was afraid, upon approaching this book, that it would be no more complicated than a simple reversal of the Robin Hood legend; that the entire thrust of the book would be to prove that the sheriff was not so bad after all, a sort of politically correct effort to prove that "I'm OK, You're OK". In actual fact, while the sheriff is a sympathetic character by virtue of being the main character, he is a complex man, and the Robin Hood legend is merely a vehicle in order to explore that complexity. He is degenerate, yet in his degeneracy he is struggling to find meaning and purpose in his life. Although he is physically courageous, Geoffrey is uncomfortable in the wild wood, and is most at home within the walls of his keep.
Robin Hood and his outlaws are made of darker stuff than in other versions of the legends: they are mutilated, wretched, desperate. Yet for this very reason, Robin Hood's spirit shines even brighter through the grime. Rather than being a character of equal complexity to the sheriff, he is symbolic of all that the sheriff fears: everything that is wild, unpredictable, beyond his control. The dark wood is the darkness within Geoffrey himself, and by braving its depths he makes unexpected discoveries that change his life.
The prose is rich in metaphor and the medieval setting beautifully rendered. Cadnum most conspicuously draws on Chaucer to bring the setting to life, but at the same time makes it his own. The characters are each in their own way vivid and realistic, in particular Hugh and the Geoffrey's wife. This book is probably not as popular as other Robin Hood retellings because it does not glitter with heroism and pageantry, but it is by far more complex and adult than most retellings, which more than compensates for its superifical lack of lustre.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1329 KB
- Print Length: 246 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media Teen & Tween (Oct. 6 2015)
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B013XUBV7E
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 8 customer ratings
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