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Will in Scarlet Hardcover – October 8, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-8-In this gritty, complicated origin tale of Robin Hood, the exalted King Richard the Lionheart is kidnapped and his brother, Prince John, decides to make a play for the throne. He sends his mercenary captain, Sir Guy of Gisborne, to Shackley Manor to test the regent's political leanings, and the manor's heir, young Will Shackley, is tricked into injuring Sir Guy's servant. The castle regent, knowing this is a ploy to hold Will hostage and secure his support, refuses to let him be taken and is assassinated. Frightened for his life and filled with thoughts of revenge, Will flees to the haunted Sherwood Forest where he is captured by bandits. He adopts the name Will Scarlet and tempts their cruel leader into sending him and a small contingent back to Shackley Castle with promises of easy riches. The plot, full to the brim with political intrigue, scandal, and revenge, moves at a slow but steady pace. Where the story really shines is in the fully developed characters. Several well-known heroes and villains are described from a perspective different from the familiar archetypes. Robin Hood is a drunk running away from a broken heart; the Sheriff of Nottingham is a fair but weak-willed peacekeeper; and Will Scarlet discovers what life is truly like for his serfs and intends to do all he can for them. The politics and geography are mapped in great detail, which may become cumbersome to those not familiar with feudal government, barring casual or reluctant readers from truly digging into this action-packed and thoughtful adventure story.-Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, MEα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

It’s 1192, and 13-year-old Will Shackley wants to leave his mischievous boyhood behind and prove himself. His father, the lord of Shackley Manor, followed King Richard to the Crusades. Now the manor is threatened by Sir Guy, Prince John’s representative. After wounding Sir Guy’s manservant with a sword, Will becomes an outlaw and flees to Sherwood Forest, taking the name Will Scarlet. He joins a ragtag band of thieves and, bent on revenge, throws himself into adventures that force him to face hard truths and figure out where his path lies. Cody gradually draws Will’s story into the framework of Robin Hood lore, but he lets the characters develop as individuals, with their own backstories and concerns, rather than figures playing stock roles on the stage of legend. The cartoonlike simplicity of the jacket art is at odds with the darker, more nuanced tenor of the writing. As the narrative progresses, the pace and dramatic intensity pick up. Cody offers a rewarding historical novel with the appealing possibility of more to come featuring Will and his companions. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037586895X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375868955
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born and raised just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. I was the baby of the family and when I wasn't dodging the tortures of three older siblings, I was making up stories to try and entertain whoever else would listen to me.

After graduating high school a solidly average student, I studied theater and creative writing in college and went on to get a graduate degree where I focused on Shakespeare. I came to New York in 1999 and for several years worked in theaters there and around the country. When I wasn't working on plays, I tried my hand at short stories and even a few comic book scripts.

I began teaching English in 2004 and started work on my first novel, Powerless, around the same time. As a life-long fan of comic books and pulp stories, those influences began to pop up in my work more and more.

To this day I can be found in my local comic book shop every Wednesday (that's the day the new comics come out, for those of you not in-the-know!) and the bookshelves in our house are stuffed with the works of old-time adventure writers like Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and Clarke Ashton Smith. If you haven't already, I recommend you head over to the library and check them out. It's great stuff!

My wife Alisha and I are still here in New York, with our young son Willem. I'm currently hard at work on my next novel for Knopf, which is has yet to get a title (but for a hint as to what it's about, just take another peek at that list of writers in the above paragraph!) Most days I divide my time between writing and teaching and being a generally nice family man.

If you see me in the comic shop, say hi.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Ferguson on October 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I always love finding a Robin Hood retelling. The story is one that appeals to people of all ages, and most children are brought up with tales of the bandits who rob from the rich and give to the poor. I especially love when the stories focus on one or two of the Merry Men instead of directly on Robin. This book focuses mostly on Will and Much, and takes these well known and beloved characters and reinvents them.

Will Scarlet, formally known as Will Shackley, is the heir to his father's estate. He is in training to become a lord, and has had to grow up more quickly than most boys because his father is away fighting in King Richard's war. Much, the miller's "son," is actually the miller's daughter and in hiding with the Merry Men in Sherwood forest. Eventually, their paths cross and so begins their adventure. Many other popular characters are also present, including Robin, John Little, Guy of Gisbourne, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Prince John.

I've read a book where Will is actually a girl in disguise, so it was interesting to see Much as the girl pretending to be a boy. Although Will believes Much is a boy, there is definitely a certain connection between them that neither shares with any of the other Merry Men. I'm glad that the romance aspect wasn't played up too much though and is just mentioned in passing since they're only 13 and 14. There's no need to force a romance between two children who have just entered their teen years. I love how protective they are of each other though, and I really liked how they kept each others secrets without having a real need to. Their chemistry is great, and it was refreshing to read about two kids who develop a friendship slowly and in spite of their differences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Heather on November 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Oh wow, this was such a great novel! Everyone that has every been evenly slightly interested in Robin Hood must read this novel. It's got a little bit of everything in it so everyone should find something appealing in it. Will Scarlet is actually the young son of Lord Shackley who has been off fighting with King Richard in the Crusades. In his place, Lord Shackley's brother Geoff has been running things and trying to teach Will, a mischievous teen who is more child than grown up, how to be a lord.

This is like an historical novel without too many dreary details, but enough to make you feel like you're really there. And Will, he's someone you will love! He's led this sheltered life, protected and pampered from the real world and all of the sudden he is thrust into politics and the real world and he sees the "Real England." He has to leave behind everything and everyone he knew, all the comforts of home and join the Merrymen just to try to survive.

This is a character driven novel with two different main characters Will Scarlet and Much the Miller's daughter, who is posing as the Miller's son. It's safer that way. The chapters go back and forth between the two points of view and they blend seamlessly. There is a budding romance between the two and it's sweet and good. Will is a gentleman and just what Much needs.

I cannot say what it is about this novel that pulled me in, but I swear I could not put it down. It's very well written, never a dull moment. Someone's life is almost always in peril and the Merrymen seem to take it in stride. It is very interesting to see how the Sheriff of Nottingham becomes who he is and how the Merrymen become bandits that give to the poor and why. Will has to grow up fast and face some ugly truths.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"That's 'cause of the drink. Can't aim an arrow when your hands are shaking. But trust me, he's the stuff legends are made of." As the narrative opens, the man in question - Rob the foul drunkard - is very much far from being the stuff legends are made of. He's not even the central character in this story. That falls to 13-year-old Will Shackley, him what's heir to the aristocratic Shackley Castle and prone to mischief.

Perhaps some plot SPOILERS in the following paragraph.

Rumors abound that, after two years in the Crusades, King Richard is coming home. Young Will is particularly thrilled since this means that his father will also be coming home. But a plot to dethrone the king is set into motion, and the loyal Shackley Castle falls to treachery, Will's uncle, the regent, murdered. Will Shackley escapes into the forbidding Sherwood Forest where he's taken prisoner by the Merry Men, a pathetic band of outlaws led by the cruel Gilbert of the White Hand. Thru the lure (and the lie) of promised treasure, the Merry Men accompany Will - now "Will Scarlet" - to Shackley Castle, unaware that Will returns not for treasure but for vengeance.


So I've read a grip of Robin Hood pastiches. At the end of this I'll even drop a few of the ones I like best. As for YA writer Matthew Cody, I'd read POWERLESS - his take on kid superheroes - some months ago and liked it well enough. So I stepped into WILL IN SCARLET with certain expectations - that were met. This is a Robin Hood story but one experienced alternatingly thru young Will's perspective and thru Much the miller's son's perspective. So, yeah, Robin Hood takes a back seat.
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