Review: The Red Fletch by Margaret McNellis

The Red Fletch

I received a review copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Published: September 2021

Pages: 296


You thought you knew the legend of Robin Hood…

When Alys’ older brother Hob leaves England—and her—to follow Robin of Locksley to Jerusalem for a Holy War, she expects Robin to do all he can to bring her brother home safe. Robin returns and causes havoc in Nottinghamshire, threatening everything Alys holds dear. Hob is still at war. Her family has lost their home. Alys blames Robin for everything.

The Sheriff of Nottingham promises Alys that, with Prince John’s favor, he has the power to bring Hob home and restore their family to their village farm. All Alys has to do is infiltrate Robin’s band of merry thieves to help bring the outlaws to justice.

Alys is confident she’ll have Hob back within a year…until she discovers everything she thought she knew about the outlaws was wrong.

My Thoughts…

Alys Fletcher loves her family, her brother Hob, and their quiet life in Locksley, farming and fletching arrows. Until Robin of Locksley destroys it all by taking Hob with him to Jerusalem to fight in the Holy War.

Alys is forced to move to Nottingham to attend to Maid Marian and, with both children gone and taxes ever higher, her family soon loses everything. Then Robin returns, causing havoc and becoming an outlaw, having abandoned Hob at war. So, when the Sheriff promises he can bring Hob back if Alys helps him capture Robin, she is only too happy to agree. Until she discovers that not everything is as it seems…

The Red Fletch is a gorgeous retelling of the well-known Robin Hood legend, looking at the famous outlaw through the eyes of a young woman desperate to fight for her family. This book takes a beloved legend and turns it into a highly original and engaging story, full of twists and turns. The characters we all know and love, like Robin and Marian, Little John, Friar Tuck and the Merry Many (not just men!), are all there, and are joined by an impressive original cast that will be hard to forget.

Alys is a fantastic main character, full of spirit and wit, not afraid to go against the limits imposed on her by society because of her sex. Her growth arc was a joy to follow, as she learns things the hard way and works hard to correct her mistakes, ultimately having to decide just how much she is willing to risk to do the right thing. I also loved the asexual/aromantic representation in this.

The plot is gripping and the stakes are high, and I found myself quickly turning the pages to see what would happen next. Still, the author managed to weave in several more reflective moments, dealing with a wide range of issues and questions of justice, identity, ethics and morality that kept me mulling over them long after the final page had turned.

The Red Fletch is a solid debut, likely to capture younger audiences and adults alike, and I look forward to seeing what this author has in store for us next. Highly recommended to historical fiction fans and lovers of feminist retellings of beloved legends.

Rating: 5/5

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery on 18th September 2021.

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