THE FOREST QUEEN, by Betsy Cornwell, Clarion Books, Aug. 7, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
What if Robin Hood was actually a woman? How would that change the dynamic of the classic tale? That’s what Betsy Cornwell explores in The Forest Queen.
When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. — Synopsis provided by Clarion Books
The Forest Queen is a layered story that goes beyond the classic tale. Sylvie is a reluctant hero who is naturally suited to be a leader. Having a female lead completely changes how things play out. Sylvie’s approach is different, as are her considerations. There’s a thoughtfulness that is threaded throughout the novel.
Cornwell’s prose is smooth and inviting. Her pacing is strong and overall plotting is cohesive. There are a few elements that feel contrived, but not enough to be glaring.
Overall, The Forest Queen is an enjoyable read with plenty of adventure and just enough romance to satisfy most readers.
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