You thought you knew the legend of Robin Hood… When Alys’s older brother Hob leaves England—and her—to follow Robin of Locksley to Jerusalem for a Holy War, she expects Robin to do all he can to bring her brother home safe. Robin returns and causes havoc in Nottinghamshire, threatening everything Alys holds dear. Hob is still at war. Her family has lost their home. Alys blames Robin for everything. The Sheriff of Nottingham promises Alys that, with Prince John’s favor, he has the power to bring Hob home and restore their family to their village farm. All Alys has to do is infiltrate Robin’s band of merry thieves to help bring the outlaws to justice. Alys is confident she’ll have Hob back within a year…until she discovers everything she thought she knew about the outlaws was wrong.
Despite a slow beginning that dares a slightly anachronistic voice in the flavor of the film A Knight’s Tale, the novel quickly gains traction as readers are drawn along for the adventure that becomes Alys’s life. She both misses her family and the work on the farm, but finds a strange sort of peace with Marian, teaching the noblewoman the fine art of archery. The Sheriff of Nottingham, as portrayed in popular versions of the work, here is a somewhat typical villain—instead, it’s Alys’s reaction to him, and to her cousin Guy, that begins setting this tale apart from the pack, as The Red Fletch takes flight as something fresh and powerful.
Particularly strong is McNellis’s portrayal of Alys as feminist icon, a woman who, while never embracing the roles society dictates, doesn’t reject them outright, either. Her independence is both celebrated and examined in the context of consequences. The shifted perspective and voice of the story allow for a deeper, richer development of the characters, adding a nuanced depth that will captivate and delight–and leave readers anxious for the next chapter.
Takeaway: This artful retelling of the Robin Hood mythos from a new perspective breathes fresh life into a beloved classic.
Great for fans of: Raven Kennedy’s Gild, Anita Valle’s Sinful Cinderella.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
"Vivid descriptions and engaging secondary players enliven the narrative... An entertaining twist on a legend from the point of view of an unusual young woman." - Kirkus Reviews
Reedsy Discovery reviewer, Beatrice Grasso, called The Red Fletch "a gorgeous retelling of the well-known Robin Hood legend, looking at the famous outlaw through the eyes of a young woman desperate to fight for her family."
Susanne Dunlap, several times' historical fiction author, interviews Margaret McNellis about her book, THE RED FLETCH, book coaching, Medieval inspiration, witchcraft, and more.
Stuart Wakefield, host of the podcast Write-Hearted, interviews Margaret McNellis and Susanne Dunlap about historical fiction: the challenges and joys of writing it. McNellis and Dunlap also discuss their upcoming virtual joint book launch for their books. The Red Fletch by Margaret McNellis debuts September 18, 2021, and Voices in the Mist by Susanne Dunlap will be released September 21, 2021.