Title: Shadow of the Wolf
Author: Tim Hall
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: Sherwood's Doom, book one
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Scholastic, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
What do you think of when you think of Robin Hood?
Maybe it's this:
Or maybe this:
Okay, I promise, I'm done with the gifs! (Also, I'll be doing this more often. Probably every review now. God, I love my husband for patiently explaining how technology works to me.. Okay, moving on!)
Robin Hood and His Merry Men is among the first classics I ever encountered as a child. I can distinctly remember wiling away more days than was actually healthy, dreaming of leading The Merry Men on countless adventures full of coin, danger, and excitement. It helped foster my passionate love of British literature.
Normally, retellings make me nervous; I love them, but they make me anxious in that, in giving their own spin on a beloved, classic tale. I'm happy to tell you guys that Tim Hall does not disappoint. I loved the feel of it; the high fantasy spin put on an already historically rooted tale. Robin Hood is the same, and yet different: A wild boy, a boy versed in the ways of the forbidding woods that ring his peaceful dwelling.
But with mysterious whispers of winter-born, dangerous legends, and the fear of the other villagers, Robin's only solace is the fiery, free-spirited Marian, his other half, his partner in crime, and, in some ways, his soulmate. He enjoys the life of a squire, but all of that is ripped away when a dark shadow falls upon our heroes tiny village: It is the Sheriff of Nottingham, a man of sick, deviant practices, ruling with fear and brute force, and he wants only one thing: Marian.
Ripped away from one another, both Robin and Marian embark on a dark path, one that cannot be turned away from once tread..
For the most part, I really, really enjoyed this lovely, dark debut. It had the old, classical feel of the original Robin Hood, but it also had creepy, dark Gothic elements that served not only to enhance the story, but to enrich it. I never imagined I would be scared of the bumbling Sheriff Nottingham of Disney's beloved film, but Hall paints a very different, and distinct, picture of him: A man not above anything to satisfy his gluttonous urges, and willing to do anything to capture the object of his desire: Marian.
This book was incredibly enjoyable, a wild ride full of meaning and emotion. The characters are wonderful: complex, nuanced, real. They felt like real people. Silent, sinuous, watchful Robin, longing to be a part of a village that sees him as cursed, ostracizing him and even being cruel. And then there's the lovely, lively Marian, free-spirited and alluring, even in her adolescent years, an arresting foil to her companion. The Sheriff makes a terrifying villain, but what intrigued me most was his fascination with Marian, and his desire for her.
What really sold this, though, was the character development. It was rich and wonderful, and it was real. Robin and Marion, changing from carefree, excitable children to two hardened warriors, working to take down the Sheriff at any cost, even if it costs them their lives, or worse, their love for one another.
I, unfortunately, couldn't give this book a completely perfect rating; at times in parts of the novel, the tense kept changing from past to present, and it was confusing, especially where the narrative was concerned. But regardless, it was a wonderful debut and a great retelling! A must read for any diehard fan of Robin Hood! Next on deck: Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca!