Young Marian A Viper in the Forest By Mandy Webster

marian

In this excellent YA tale, a teen-aged Maid Marian shows that she is far from the winsome and demure young lady who captures the heart of Robin Hood in later life. In fact, this compelling book gives us an extraordinary look at what might have been the genesis of their relationship — and it’s a story that will capture the hearts and minds of adult readers, too.

We first meet Robin, Marian and Midge as they are scampering to their secret treehouse with goodies they’ve liberated from the castle’s kitchen. Soon, however, things take a much more serious turn as Robin is about to be horsewhipped for interfering with the punishment of a local carpenter.

Luckily, Marian’s father, the Sheriff of Nottingham, intervenes just in time, and the tale takes off from there, with Marian firmly in the lead. She makes a strong female protagonist, and it is refreshing to see this courageous young woman portrayed as something radically different from the passive maiden we’re used to seeing.

Deprived of her mother since birth, she quickly grew into a tomboy — despite the best efforts of Robin’s mother to slow her down:

“The mistress of Loxley took the child under her wing and schooled her in the ways of a lady. (But) Marian knew she would never handle a needle and thread with the proficiency with which she wielded a sword.”

Still, there’s a strong protective streak in Marian when it comes to fourteen-year-old Robin, whose headstrong ways lead him into all sorts of peril. One night she gets wind of his adolescent plot to burgle the home of a neighboring nobleman. She sets off after him, riding in man’s clothing through the night. The author’s description draws the reader into the moment with practiced ease:

“Poppy’s hoofbeats echoed through the lonely laneways. The quiet was briefly broken by the shouts and laughter of the drunken clientele as they passed the brightly lit tavern outside the walls of the castle. Then the sounds faded into nothingness as Marian and her mount sped toward the forest.”

It’s not all midnight rides and swordfights, however. There’s a hint of romance as Marian can’t seem to get the thought of one young man out of her mind — even though she’s been betrothed since birth to Robin. Her conflicting feelings confuse and bebother her.

But a new mystery throws these thoughts aside as the countryside is roused in search of a bold robber, who strikes wealthy homeowners in the dead of night while they sleep peacefully upstairs.

Robin swears it’s not him. But, then, who could it be? Marian decides to find out. But events take an unexpected turn and Marian’s curiosity leads her into a situation for which she is totally unprepared.

This is an imaginative tale with good guys and bad guys, medieval merrymaking and sinister plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Don’t miss this five-star gem. Download today!

Amazon Link

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About Don Sloan

I am a former journalist with a major daily newspaper and now am a full-time Indie book reviewer. I love to write, read, drink good wine, and take short naps in front of my fireplace here in the North Carolina mountains.
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