Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book Review: Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon

I picked up Shadows of Sherwood at the RochesterTeen Book Festival this year. Kekla Magoon was one of the participating authors… She was the only author of color there (though Mariko Tamaki is half Japanese), but I won’t even get started on that. I’m currently trying to decide if I want to talk to them about it or if I just want to be go along with it resentfully. 

Anyway, Shadows of Sherwood is a Robin Hood retelling on its surface. It's the first book I've completed for my own damn book Challenge: #ClearAShelf.

Here’s the Goodreads mumbo jumbo for the book:


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.


What I had to say about it:

Shadows of Sherwood is indeed a book about a girl named Robyn who is on the run from the law and helping out the oppressed and down-trodden of the masses. If you wish to forget it is a retelling, the characters names are also nods to the original story, so no luck there. Robyn's last name is Loxley, so there you go. 


And you could forget. Robyn is a 12- year old daughter of a government official. The story’s time - setting is hard to pinpoint. The gadgets that are most useful to them are those that are “Ancient” because they are less connected to the grid and described as somewhat outdated for the current world, as well. The government in this world uses skin- embedded chips to track people. All in all, it’s probably at least OK to assume we are only about 10-20 years away from that… yes. In 10 years, we will be using embedded chips in at least some populations and for some purposes. Don’t be na├»ve. Your phone is already functioning in that way, for sobbing out loud!

But back to the summary: Robyn just happens to be out of the house looking for trouble, which results in her not being home when the bad guys clear out the good guys in her neighborhood. But since she’s only 12, Robyn isn’t totally sure what the hell is going on. However, she’s smart and agile and able to remember the lessons her father has been teaching her. Added to this adventure is Moon lore, the spiritual story of Robyn’s paternal family. Robyn has grown up away from these familial/ cultural roots but finds that she will need to follow them to find out what happened to her family. And to take down the Sheriff and (the) Crown. Just as importantly, she will have to trust her new friends and learn to work as a team.


This book gets the #WNDB sticker. Ms. Magoon is Black (of a mixed variety, perhaps? I don’t want to misrepresent!) J Regardless, though race is not talked about in this book in the way we talk about it in our lives, the characters are described along with their complexions and hair textures. Robyn’s father has dark skin and has faced some discrimination because of it, since in the higher tiers of government; most of the folks are more fair. Robyn has light brown skin, as do “a lot of people.” It’s an interesting and inclusive way to handle the whole business. Also, it’s Robin Hood, so clearly there is the class- clash stuff. The higher-ups are a little clueless about how the underlings are actually starving and dying of simply curable illnesses.


Rick Riordan said that this story “breathes new life into the Robin Hood myth.” I don’t say poetic things like that, but Mr. Riordan is spot on.


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