Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: Young Adult / Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations
From a New York Times bestselling author, a fresh, female-centered take on “Robin Hood” in which a young noblewoman, like the legendary hero, becomes an outlaw fighting for social justice. Perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas.
When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings or anyone who loves a strong female lead, this gorgeously written take on the Robin Hood tale goes beyond the original's focus on economic justice to explore love, gender, the healing power of nature, and what it means to be a family.
Betsy Cornwell's The Forest Queen is supposed to be the retelling of Robin Hood with a feminist angle. It's a story about how a corrupt, too-powerful leader and his inner circle thrive at the expense of the common people and how one girl fights for what's right and makes a difference. Lady Silviana of Loughsley chooses to make a stand against her older brother, who just happens to be Sheriff John of Loughsley, after she learns that he is as much as a brute outside of the home, as he is at home.
The clutch comes when John attempts to marry Silvie off to someone who is much older than she is, and someone she once had a crush on after she "ruins" Prince Rioch's first hunting day. I could tell you that this is a story about a young woman who goes from a spoiled noble, to learning how to take care of herself, to learning how to accept who she's become in order to help others who have been unfairly treated, and unfairly taxed, and unfairly sent to prison because the King, Prince, and Sheriff like living the lap of luxury.
The author spends too much time with Silvie and her boyfriend Robert "Bird" Falconer, son of the huntswoman, running away into the woods and talking about the good ole days where they were free to climb trees and act like kids, and not have adult expectations shoved at them. Yes, there are moments of disagreement. Then they discover Little Jane who appears to have chosen to kill herself while being pregnant. Next comes Mae Tuck, who is a supposed to be a traveling midwife.
As you can tell, the story drags along for while as Silvie, Jane, Mae, and Bird gather those who have been treated like dogs by the Sheriff, the Prince, and the King. To make matters worse, Sheriff John suddenly becomes a pervert, and perhaps a serial rapist as well, who may have also abused his own sister. Wow. Not the Robin Hood I remember. Nor any of the retelling's since. While the idea behind the story was a good one, I am not so sure if this is what anyone would have expected from the writer.
Personally, I expected more of the Robin Hood, and not a Maid Marian type character. Silvie is apparently good with a bow as we see in the Prologue, but I'm not sure that's good enough to carry the story. There have, and will be other books retelling Robin Hood with a gender twists in the future. I dare say that I hope they don't follow this authors huge letdown. I would suggest that if you go in looking for sweeping tales of heroism and stunning fight scenes, you may be disappointed.