My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed McKay's debut novel. It is action-packed, with quite a light touch on the historic and more focus on the fiction. The plot is pacey and quite simple, yet engaging.
The main difference with this telling of the Robin Hood story and others is the period it is set in. I found the details of the historical context, with mentions of the Despensers and King Edward II to be a bit forced. They didn't add a lot to the story in my opinion and felt like a bit of an afterthought. All the characters you expect are here: Robin, Will Scarlet, Little John, Alan-a-Dale and Friar Tuck. But despite mention of some of the robberies the band of outlaws carry out, the life in the forest never felt that much of a hardship.
I found some of the use of language a bit off-putting. For example, talk of people feeling adrenaline coursing through their veins (11 mentions of adrenaline), when adrenaline was not discovered until 1900, throws me out of the story. Call me picky, but I find this type of anachronistic language difficult to swallow in historical fiction. I have no problem with the use of modern turns of phrase in dialogue, as I understand that the writer wants to make it seem natural and easily understood, but mention of things that have not yet been invented or discovered, I find problematic.
Having said all of the above, I do not want to give the impression I did not enjoy the novel. It is an easy read, with characters that are likable with a clear sense of right and wrong. You root for Robin and his band of rogues, but you need to take it all with a pinch of salt. It is classic derring-do, but fun all the way.
4 stars - looking forward to the sequel.
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