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Sherwood by Meagan Spooner Book Review

26 Oct

I love a good fairy tale.

I also love a good fairy tale re-telling. And that’s exactly what this one is. Spooner has a way of taking a classic story and weaving something new out of it – while keeping the spirit of the original tale in tact. If you read my review of Hunted, you already know that I was eager to read more of this author. Well, she did NOT disappoint, you guys! She did it again with this rendition of Robin Hood – but from Maid Marian’s point of view.

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Here’s the synopsis right from the book:

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 fiancé.

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.

 

 

And here are a few of my favorite quotes:

 

“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war.”

“The soul knew the target. All Marian had to do was welcome the bow to herself, let it become her heart and the arrow her voice, and then step out of the way.”

It’s easy to be a hero when you never look beyond your next battle.”

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Once again, we get to see not just Marian’s side of the story, but Robin’s as well. Filling in gaps and letting us get to know Marian even better, Spooner once again weaves a tale full of adventure, intrigue and romance (major and minor) between her characters. So much was unexpected in this story of the classic tale that I cannot wait to read it again. Honestly, I’ll probably be starting it again today to read before I have to return it to the library next week.

As someone who has always been intrigued about archery (I’d absolutely love to take lessons one day), it was a fun element of the story for me. The side characters were well done as well – even the changes of Little John were good. Her little band of ‘merry men’ and her maid (love her!) who supported her and sought to do what was right.

Now, there was a few paragraphs that I got concerned just how far Spooner was going to take the scene of kissing, but she kept it ‘kosher’ as we say here in my house. There’s also talk of remembering holding the other/kissing/ etc but nothing overtly sexual. If you have a teen, I’d recommend reading it beforehand, just so you know what’s in it. But, otherwise, it’s mild – which is the only way I’ll read it!

Also, there were a few curse words near the end. I remember wondering at her choice to all of a sudden use them when she hadn’t the other 400 pages…

My overall feeling of this book? It’s made it to my Favorite Reads of this Year, just like Hunted did.  I definitely plan on owning it once the price comes down – this was published this year (2019).  The world building was good – whether in the forest, her home, or in Nottingham. There weren’t too many (or too few) characters to keep track of and each main and important side ones were well thought out, in my opinion. As I said, there were enough plot twists that I really didn’t see coming so the ending was a pleasant surprise.

~side note, it’s rare when I read a newly published book so this was kinda cool for me!~

I created a board on Pinterest for archery costumes (this is what happens when you stay up really late after finishing a really good book) if you’re interested, check it out! 

While covering different genres, I do not read anything that has blatant sexual content. I will tell you if there is any sort of such (typically very mild and delicately put) in them and if I don’t think they’d be appropriate for young/teenage readers.

If you’ve got any fairy tale re-tellings to recommend, I’d love to hear them!

~Laura

Hunted by Meagan Spooner Review

26 Jul

If you’ve been around SGL for a while, you probably know that I really enjoy a good retelling of fairy tales ( I’ll link some of my reviews of retellings at the bottom of this post). My friend and I found this book at Powell’s bookstore and I immediately said ‘we’ve got to get this’. I mean, look at that gorgeous cover! And when you read the synopsis, I’m sure you’ll understand why I was instantly hooked.

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I’ve never read Meagan Spooner before but I’m now eager to try more of her books. I know, of course that sometimes, there’s just one book that I’ll love of an author. I really liked the different twists given on this timeless tale of Beauty and the Beast. It’s been weeks since I finished it and I’m still thinking about it. Which means I’m likely to pick this up again soon. Yes. It really was that good.

I’m going to pull the synopsis straight from the back of the book for you:

“Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones – and in her blood. 

Here in the wilderness Yeva is under no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas… or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. Here she feels one with the ebb and flow of life. Here she is home. 

But when Yeva’s father goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey : the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sister’s protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory – a cursed valley, a ruined castle and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin, or salvation.”

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Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be. She reminds us of what we could be.”

“She was so tired after all. Tired of fairy tales, and magic, and empty castles. Tired of wanting so intensely that she didn’t know what she wanted.”

“The satisfaction of desires sated was short and pale in comparison to the dream of wanting.”

Getting little snippets from the Beast’s side added so much to the tale, and gave us a chance to see the Beast more fully than just a selfish man having to pay a heavy price until someone comes to, basically, rescue him. His story is just as important as Beauty’s and getting to read his feelings about his transformation, about Beauty and…well, all of it, was great.

I appreciated the moral lesson that Spooner wove through the tale. She also seems to have taken inspiration from classic fairy tales that were darker and … well, more full of death. But she did it well. There isn’t any overly done, gross scenes in regard to hunting – there are descriptions of course but Spooner doesn’t get graphic with the telling.

There isn’t any sex scenes- thank you so much for that Meagan! – I appreciate a YA novel that has a good romance story without feeling the need to go to that level.

I did feel that this book could have been longer. It might have been a bit slow in pace (not that I minded) but I did feel that just all of a sudden you were at the ending. I’d have liked either a better balance or the book just enough longer that I wasn’t left going (near the end) with a – ‘wait, what?’

Thankfully, this wasn’t enough to ruin the book for me, I’m able to overlook it because she showed us a strong character in Beauty with enviable hunting skills ; a beautiful world set in old Russia ; a Beast that’s trying and Beauty’s sisters were fully rounded characters that, honestly, I’d love to read more of. I’ll add that the book didn’t end where I was going ‘wait, what?’ and that helped a lot, I think. She finished out the story a bit, leaving that bitter taste a bit diluted.

I’ve read that she’s working on a novel titled “Sherwood” and you can bet that I’m going to be reading that one. This novel has definitely made it to my favorite reads for this year. And, if you’re interested, here’s a few other retellings that I’ve read and loved over the years.

Wildwood Dancing  by Juliet Marillier

Beauty by Robin Mckinley

Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley

~Laura

Do you love retellings? Have any favorites? I’d absolutely love to hear about them!

 

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