Book Review: Sherwood by Meagan Spooner
Updated: Aug 17, 2019
“Grief, thought Marian, was not the melancholy mourning of a loss, not the long and dwindling ache that ballads sang of. It was forgetting, and remembering, again and again, an endless series of slashes, each as violent and sharp as the last. It was execution by a thousand different wounds, it was bleeding to death so slowly that you are certain it will never end, that you will suffer this torture for eternity, long after your natural life has ended.”
Robin of Locksley is dead, killed at the Crusades. Sherwood is Marian’s tale of moving through her grief and finding her place in the world, not as the lady society expects her to be: she is the legendary Robin Hood. Whilst Marian is rescuing a friend wearing Robin’s cloak and ring, she is mistaken for him. The lure of being able to make a difference to the starving people of Nottingham is too much and she begins to put in motion events to help her people as Robin of the Hood. This seems so straight forward, but things are not as they seem.
Meagan Spooner has a unique graceful, lyrical quality in her writing that oozes beauty. She is also talented at creating an active setting: where things in the environment are described in relation to being familiar to the character’s experiences. There were so many extra details such as Marian’s horse, Jonquille, eating blackberries in Sherwood Forest while waiting for Marian. There is humor in the most intense moments, especially in the last few pages where there is so much action and intensity.
It was nice to have excerpts from Robin’s perspective in the past—meeting Marian and then growing to love her. I especially liked that Marian had Robin’s voice in her head and that they had conversations. It was very realistic—once you know someone that deeply, you know what they would say.
Meagan Spooner has revealed the human experience in this book so spot on. Besides grief, there are struggles between what is just and right, and the pressures to be good at what is expected of you (in Marian’s case, she is terrible at being a Lady). Marian is a woman in a man’s world and she struggles with what her followers would think of her if she revealed her true self to them. Although, she has stumbled into Robin’s shoes and has become a greater hope to the people than she ever imagined and the rush of successful missions becomes addictive.
“Success was more intoxicating than the strongest wine.”
Guy of Gisborne (who desires to marry Marian), becomes Robin Hood’s hunter. Being the Sheriff’s right hand man, his mission is to lock those up who oppose the law. At times, it seems as though he and Robin are to become locked in a lifelong hunter-and-hunted duet as Valjean and Javert are in Les Misérables.
Marian’s relationship with her father is lovely and there are some beautiful father-daughter moments. She desperately wants to share her truth, but feels that she can’t so that he stays safe- his duty is to obey the law. There is also a particularly touching moment about halfway through (I won’t mention who and why). This was the turning point for me when everything started to gather speed and come together.
“I cannot accuse anyone of negligence who obeys the law,” she said thickly. “But neither can I condemn someone who defies a law that is unjust.”
This the first Meagan Spooner book I have read, although I have the Starbound series on my shelf to be read soon. Readers of her Beauty and the Beast retelling—Hunted—seem to prefer it over this one, but I have the luxury not to be able to compare them-yet. Although this book was slow to start, once Marian found her identity things picked up right until the last page. There were so many surprises. If you start this book and consider not finishing because of the slow start, this is one that you might want to keep going with.
In whole, Sherwood has revitalized the magic of legends and storytelling: where they began, who carries them on (and for what purpose) and what they become. It has left me with a sense of a greater appreciation and awe of the myth and others like it (such as King Arthur).
“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war?”
Read: June 2019