Thursday, July 9, 2015

Shadows of Sherwood

Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon is a fun new update to the Robin Hood legend in which the majority of the gang is made up of girls. And it's pretty great.

Robyn Loxley likes to tinker with old tech and the best place to find that requires her to sneak out of her house in the middle of the night. On the Night of Shadows, one such excursion saves her life when Governor Crown sends the military police out to assassinate and/or remove from their homes any Parliament member who would speak against his rule. Spouses and children are included in his directive. On this night Robyn returns home to find her parents gone and blood in the kitchen. Her father has tried to prepare Robyn for just such an eventuality. As she goes on the run, she has a few clues to help her and picks up some friends along the way. But learning to trust other people and navigate the terrifying new world they find themselves in does not come easily for a loner such as Robyn.

Robyn is independent and likes to do things her own way. She seems to have had few friends in her old life, mostly missing her parents and not really mentioning any one else. It takes her a while to trust the friends she begins to make, and she does several things that puts them at risk due to her own unthinking bravado. The conflicts that result from these situations helps to round out her character and adds to her journey. It also helps to develop the other characters as well. Robyn is a mixed child, she has a black father and a white mother. It is because of this that she is set up to be such a hero in the world, and I loved that aspect. The rest of the gang is also interesting. Laurel is an orphan and an expert thief. The mysterious Key is good at knowing what is going on and gathering intelligence. He is also good at strategy and has a mysterious past. Scarlet is a tough girl who is a top-notch hacker who uses her talents to undermine the Governor's regime. Tucker is a divinity student who gives them all sanctuary when they need it. Merryan is the niece of the Governor who moonlights as a volunteer in hospitals for the needy and begins to question her uncle's rule. The team is still new and has its issues, but I enjoyed watching them all get to know each other and figure out how they would operate.

The book is set in a futuristic world. The world building is the book's one great weakness. There's a lot of stuff about moon lore that weighs the book down at times particularly when it is not quite clear what its import is or how it will impact the action. The political issues are harsh and real enough without this aspect. Without the lore the book would be shorter but also tighter from a plotting perspective. The story wanders a little too much and seems unsure of its direction due to the number of threads being used to weave it.

Right now the villains are fairly predictable and two dimensional. Little is known of Crown. His chosen head for the military police, Marissa Mallet Sheriff of Sherwood District, is the face of the villainy in the story. She makes an excellent villain but there is not much else to her but that-at least no yet.

I love the diversity and girl power in this book. I'm looking forward  to recommending it to the kids I know who love these types of stories.


  1. Interesting! Sounds like it's the beginning of a series; do you think you'd go on to read the next one?

    1. I will read the next one to see where she's going with this. I think it has potential to get a lot better.