Author: Jenny Elder Moke
Page Length: 320
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Synopsis: Isabelle of Kirklees has only ever known a quiet life inside the sheltered walls of the convent, where she lives with her mother, Marien. But after she is arrested by royal soldiers for defending innocent villagers, Isabelle becomes the target of the Wolf, King John’s ruthless right hand. Desperate to keep her daughter safe, Marien helps Isabelle escape and sends her on a mission to find the one person who can help: Isabelle’s father, Robin Hood.
As Isabelle races to stay out of the Wolf’s clutches and find the father she’s never known, she is thrust into a world of thieves and mercenaries, handsome young outlaws, new enemies with old grudges, and a king who wants her entire family dead. As she joins forces with Robin and his Merry Men in a final battle against the Wolf, will Isabelle find the strength to defy the crown and save the lives of everyone she holds dear?
Hood follows Isabelle of Kirkless who lives in a priory with her mother Marien but is forced to flee after defending innocent villagers. Her mother instructs her to find a father she’s never known- the legendary Robin Hood. Isabelle begins her journey away from her mother and the priory, the only home she’s ever known, to ask for help from a father she never knew existed. And she must tell him that the Wolf has returned and has again targeted Robin.
With the help of the Merry Men, Isabelle journeys to find her father and learns that there is so much more to the world than what she experienced under the confines of the priory. Even in the midst of frightening battles, frenzied escapes, death threats against her mother, and violent mercenaries, Isabelle feels a belonging that she’s never felt before, especially with her new band of friends which is led by the handsome Adam.
The next generation of Merry Men (and women) are sharp, strong, and relentless in pursuit of justice and equality for all. They teach Isabelle what it means to be part of something bigger and how it feels to be accepted.
Though many of the characters, including the protagonist, are new, I love that the author integrated some of the beloved Robin Hood characters into the story. John Little, Robin, Marien, and others have pivotal roles in the story and add to the dynamic character development, which is one of the strengths of the novel.
From budding romances to long-time loves, and from loyal friendships to unique familial bonds, this book explores so many different relationships. I love the budding romance between Isabelle and Adam. It is sweet and charming and often parallels Robin and Marien’s love. The pseudo-family created in the Merry Men is strong and shows Isabelle the meaning of belonging, something she desperately craves.
One of my favorite scenes is a tender moment between Isabelle and Robin in which Robin tells his daughter about his early years with Marien. He regales this story to dispel her nerves when shooting in front of him for the first time. Not only does Isabelle learn more about her parents and their love story, but she also sees how much he loves her. It is a beautiful bonding moment between father and daughter.
I also love the abundance of strong women in this story, especially Isabelle and Marien. It feels like Moke took the original Robin Hood story and re-imagined it into an immersive feminist tale. Marien, for example, is described as “fashioned of the same material as her bow – flexible and smooth on the surface, but unbreakable at her core.” Marien is a complex woman who is calm, resolute, and fiercely protective of those she loves. Isabelle inherited this strength, and though naive, unsure and frightened at the start of the story, she proves her strength and abilities throughout her journey. Her repeated mantra, “Be braver than you feel,” fuels her courage.
Throughout the story, Isabelle is hunted and haunted by the Wolf, a man who holds her mother captive and wants her father dead. Isabelle must make some difficult decisions in the hopes of saving her mother. The Wolf’s threats as well as Isabelle’s journey to find her father and save her mother make for an action-packed adventure.
Hood is a wonderfully written and well-paced coming-of-age story with vivid imagery and dynamically developed characters. I loved that the book made me feel all the feels. I laughed out loud at some of Robin’s antics, and I wept copiously over a particularly tragic moment. That kind of emotional investment in a story is a tribute to the story-telling skill of the author! Thanks to Netgalley and Disney Publishing Worldwide for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
- The romance, of course! I love the blossoming romance between Adam and Isabelle. Though this was not the focus of the story, it was sweet. I also loved the deep love shown between Robin and Marien. They had an unusual relationship and a beautiful, long-lasting love.
- The amazing imagery and personification! Check it out:
“Older than kings themselves, these trees has stood guard over all that came to pass in Sherwood Forest since the first bud had sprung, and their massive branches did not suffer fools or beginners.”
“Night transformed the woods into a stranger, webbed in shadows and clawing branches, tearing at the thick wool of her habit and snatching tendrils of her golden curls with sinister whispers.”
- “You have the blood of kings and rebels within you, love. Let it rise to meet the call.”
- “We do not have to let the constraints of our past define our future.”
- “My mother once said a man should measure his worth not by the woman he has tamed, but by the ones he has let run free.”
Readers who like the Robin Hood story will enjoy the book, as will people who like young adult coming-of-age novels with amazing characters.