Review of ‘Nottingham’ by Anna Burke
‘Nottingham: The True Story of Robyn Hood’ is a lesbian retelling book of English folklore legendary character Robin Hood, one of the most well-known stories of the Middle Ages. This is the third published book by Ms. Burke though the author says that this is the first novel she ever wrote. For some reason, she waited some time to publish it but I’m glad that she finally did. Ms. Burke is part of a new generation of young lesfic talented authors which gives me hope for the future of the genre. I’ve read both her debut ‘Compass Rose’ and her second novel ‘Thorn‘ and both were in my favourites of each year.
Robyn Hood is an archer living near Nottingham, England during the times of King Richard the Lionheart. After being caught hunting illegally to provide for her starving family, she is forced to escape to the woods and live as an outlaw. There she meets a group of other fugitives who are all victims of the malice of the patriarchal system, especially the nobility. When the Sheriff of Nottingham levies the largest tax in the history of England, Robyn and her band of outlaws are forced to take matters into their hands and rob the rich to give to the poor. She has to be clever enough to avoid the Sheriff’s persecution, but even more careful of the mutual attraction for his daughter, Marian.
This is another winner by Ms. Burke. Normally pirates stories, dark fantasy or middle ages tales don’t appeal to me but I’m always happy to read her novels even though they are normally out of my comfort zone. The author manages to create dark, dangerous and hopeless places and slowly carve a crevice of light, peace, and hope in them. The characters’ journeys are full of adventure, hardship, and redemption making the stories interesting and enjoyable. Robyn is such a flawed but redeemable character, a prisoner of her own time and her personal story that your heart will go with her in her suffering and will fill with joy in her moments of happiness.
The rest of the cast is very well written in its diversity and depth and shows the injustice of the patriarchal system of the Middle Ages in which women from all society levels were treated like expendable property of the powerful. Surely Middle Age experts will have criticisms to make in terms of authenticity and use of language but I get that that the author took liberties in the name of making the story readable and enjoyable for a bigger audience. I personally enjoyed it very much and will wait patiently for what Ms. Burke creates next.
I normally don’t make comments about covers but let me say that this is another outstanding design by Ann McMann which truly honours the beauty of the story.
Overall, an excellent (re)tale of courage, loyalty, and redemption. 5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.