Gender-swapped Robin Hood in Sherwood | Book Review

【 SHERWOOD 】

Robin Hood in all its glory, but better.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (retelling: Robin Hood)
Author: Meagan Spooner
Published: March 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 480 (paperback)

Quick thoughts
I’m reviewing this sometime after reading it and all I can say is that my mind keeps coming back to this book and how much I enjoyed it. Marion was such a strong character and the adventure was truly gripping.

A gender-swapped Robin Hood retelling
This book starts with the news that Robin Hood has died on a crusade and Marion is left bereft. Honestly, this was a brutal way to start a book – casually shoving a knife into my nostalgia over this tale.

However, Marion has a strong sense of justice and when she sees certain things – such a high taxes – she feels the need to do something about it. That’s where the gender swap comes in! Taking up Robin’s appearance by wearing his gear she is mistaken for Robin back from the dead. And things sort of snowball into a legend from there that Marion cannot extricate herself from.

What really worked
Apart from the fact that this is a really cool retelling, written by Spooner who knows what she’s doing, it’s also incredibly immersive, and the longish page count was glorious.

There’s a real sense of female empowerment with the striking difference in the way Marion is treated as a woman vs as Robin. The commaraderie she finds among outlaws was lovely, but you know it’s no place for a woman in this tale and she only earns respect by posing as a man.

Yet Marion is defying all the rules and doing some impressive stuff ‘despite’ being a woman. It’s a story that is both honouring our love of this well-worn tale and the power of women.

Plus there is SO MUCH ACTION. Much fighting, much wall climbing, many punches thrown. A thrilling tale bubbling with delightful, medieval skirmishes.

Final thoughts
There’s much to enjoy in this book. Whether it’s the lack of men romantically distracting Marion (aside from her grief over Robin), the female empowerment themes or the epic archery going on, I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t love this.

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