By M.C. Frank
Outlaws Series, book #0
Still in the spirit of sharing novellas, a new one has hit my radar and I’m excited to share it with you. M.C. Frank has been prolific lately: after her magnificent prequel to Salt for Air, Ice Mermaid, we now have a prequel for Everything I Do, her incredible Robin Hood retelling. And wow, what a prequel!
We are probably going to die today,” said John.
“I’m aware,” Robin replied. “But then again, we’re constantly going to die.”
“So what you’re saying is,” Alis hissed behind them, “that you’re used to being about to die.”
“More or less,” Will Scarlet replied, rare laughter in his voice. “The excitement is gone.”
Meet Robin Hood’s band of outlaws. Their story starts with Christmas, a lost love, a hungry town and a robbery.
In this Outlaws novella, Robin Loxley is a tortured young man mourning the loss of his title, his lands and his first love. Tonight, with the help of his close friends, he will get a new name that will live in history, a cat that could care less that Robin happens to be the most brilliant archer in medieval England, and a chance to prove himself by rescuing a lady from a fire.
But this is no ordinary lady…
And that is no ordinary fire…
Taking place on Christmas (perfect timing!), not too long before the events of Everything I Do, we get the inside scoop on how the little band of Outlaws made a name for themselves. And speaking of names – why is he called ‘Robin Hood’, by the way? This is wonderful insight for those who have already started the Outlaws series, but also makes a great invistation into the series for those who are only just now discovering it. And clocking in at 90 pages, this isn’t a short novella!
Unlike in Everything I Do, the perspective of Hood belongs solely to Robin himself. I felt a tonal shift compared to the novel: much more introspective, like when the author wrote her No Ordinary Star series. Absolutely beautiful. We follow Robin as he tries to find his new place in the world, after escaping the prison with his friends: trying to do what’s right, save the people of Nottingham from a terrible villain, keep them from starving on christmas day… while at the same time, trying to save himself. The trauma of his time in the prisons, starving to death, and the loss of his love. As a result, the author weaves high tension moments with quiet scenes that pack an emotional punch.
It’s definitely a loving introduction to the band of merry men, whether you have read the first book or not. It feels essential to the series, like it could have been in an extended version of Everything I Do. There’s no more loving squad than Alis, Little, Tuck, John, and Robin. If you love Good vs Evil type stories, classics brought back with depth, and of course, a great dose of adventure, then you need this book!