I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon
Series: Robyn Hoodlum #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2015-08-04
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Friendship, Middle-Grade, Retelling, Social Issues
Source: the Publisher
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Book Depository
The night her parents disappear, twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley must learn to fend for herself. Her home, Nott City, has been taken over by a harsh governor, Ignomus Crown. After fleeing for her life, Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown's merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can't rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.
Kicking off a new series with an unforgettable heroine, readers will be treated to feats of courage and daring deeds as Robyn and her band find their way in this cruel, new world.
I was really excited for this book for few reasons: 1. I love Robin Hood stories and this was an interesting take on the old tale. 2. I love middle-grade books and am always on the lookout for new ones for my kids. 3. I love strong female leads and was hoping that’s what this would be. After reading it, I was both happy with it and slightly disappointed.
What I Liked:
I really liked the different take on the Robin Hood story. I liked that it focused on a young girl who loved adventures and her family and who also happened to be biracial. I liked her curiosity and the fact that she was good with technology and building things. I liked that her family was important to her and that she was determined to find her parents. Even though her parents weren’t present in the actual book, the lessons they’d shared with Robyn beforehand and special moments they shared showed up in Robyn’s memories throughout the book and it was nice to see so much love in a family.
I also liked the group of misfits that ended up coming together by the end of the book. This is obviously a strong pull from the original Robin Hood but I just love how each of them had their part to play, each had their strengths, and even though they’d each been alone for so long, by the end of the first book, they’d come to depend on and trust each other. Friendship and family are both strong themes within this book.
What I Didn’t Like:
I really was not a fan of the addition of the moon lore in this book. It dragged the book down and added, what I felt, was unnecessary sections that bored me. The book didn’t need magic or any special connection other than family and love between her and her parents. We didn’t need something that specifically called out Robyn as the chosen one who was going to save everyone. And we certainly didn’t need any kind of destiny or prophecy that had her collecting elements in order to “win”. I don’t know. Honestly, I skimmed quite a bit of the moon lore sections. I just simply feel like it took the choice to save the people away from Robyn. It made her seem less strong and instead like she just stumbled upon this thing that she had to do. I know destiny is sort of a big thing in YA and middle-grade books but one of the best things about Robin Hood is his constant choice to keep helping the people. I wanted the Robyn in this book to have the same choice. And to be fair, she does choose to help people in the beginning, but I just hate the destiny, she has no choice, she’s the chosen one thing.
Also, there’s this weird part in the moon lore about the one being made of both light and shadow. This ends up being a comparison to Robyn’s parents and Robyn being biracial. And I’m just not sure that it needed to be made. I love that there are main characters that are diverse and I love that she has a strong relationship with both of her parents and that they are always presented in a positive way, but it just felt a little strange in the end. It could totally be me here, but I just wish, again, that Robyn could have been herself, just the way she was, for no other reason than just being who she was. I don’t need extra reasons for her to be biracial or for her to decide that it must be her to save the people of Sherwood from Crown. I just want her to be her and make the choices she makes because she wants to. But, again, that might just be my views on it.
Overall, I still enjoyed the book. I skimmed a bunch of the moon lore stuff because it really bored me and I felt it distracted from the real story but the parts that I liked about the book, I really liked. I’m on the fence about recommending this book. I’m glad I read it in the end but I’m also not entirely sure that I’ll continue with the series. I think this is one that you’ll have to decide on for yourself. (Obviously, you should always do that, but I think you know what I mean.) If it sounds interesting to you, I won’t stop you from reading it and if it sounds terrible to you, I definitely won’t push you into reading it.
If you have read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!