Apparently I am a sucker for Robin Hood, based solely upon the Kevin Costner movie I watched too many times in high school. I was excited to read this book even though it featured Robin’s daughter instead of the man himself, because that was close enough.
Rennie has been raised as a scullery girl in the kitchens of Nottingham Castle. When a former guardian of Sherwood Forest dies, she is whisked into the forest to assume her position as a new guardian. Robin Hood died before she was born, and she thought him just a legend, so to hear that he existed, and that she is his daughter, is a lot to take in.
Then there’s the magic. Back in the day, Robin protected the forest with a magical circle spell formed by himself, Marian, and The Green Man, an ancient god of the forest. When Robin and Marian died, a trio of humans took their place. But now that trio is broken and must be replaced by Rennie (aka Wren), Sparrow, the son of Little John, and Martin, the son of Will Scarlet. She also has to, you know, be with one of the guys for the magical circle to truly work.
Rennie doesn’t like being told what to do. She especially does not like two guys fighting over her for power when they barely know her and say nothing of love. But she soon recognizes that there is magical earth power in the forest, so she takes her place and chooses her man.
The writing in this book is elegant and poetic in an old fashioned way. The plot is very mystical, as the characters learn to draw upon the magic of Sherwood. My problem was that the action was always dire. There were no good times or celebrations, just one urgent rescue after another, interspersed with running and hiding in the forest. The bad guy was bad, the villagers were downtrodden, the good guys kept getting caught.
The love scenes were brief and as explicit as this: “His weapon, still inside her, had once more readied itself.” And Rennie flirts like this: “I have been watching you ply that axe this long while and fairly burnt myself to cinders in the doing.” I think that was the most lighthearted sentence in the whole book.
Even though love was very much a part of this book, I didn’t appreciate it as a romance. Rennie was unexpectedly forced into a love triangle, and then her emotions were inextricably linked to the magic of the forest, so much so that she couldn’t touch either man without sparks and tingles and empathic connections, even telepathic connections with her lover. I didn’t see her falling in love with a person, I saw her falling in love with a feeling, motivated by her responsibility.
This works as a kind of magical fantasy, everything is undertaken to support the legend of Robin Hood. However, I don’t think magic is my thing at all, I would have preferred straightforward, hardscrabble mortals using their wits against tyranny. If you like hero’s journeys and whispering trees, then you might enjoy it.
*ARC provided by author for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
Daughter of Sherwood
by Laura Strickland
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Wild Rose Press