In these testing times, we could all do with a dose of escapism and wish-fulfilment, and Robert Muchamore delivers magnificently in his new adventure, particularly if you happen to be a ten-year old boy.
Robin is a geeky twelve-year old, not particularly popular at school, not very cool but he has a couple of skills: he’s an enthusiastic hacker, and amazing with a bow and arrow. When I tell you his surname is Hood, you’ll get a good idea where the story is heading. Muchamore has reimagined the story of the hero of Sherwood Forest, relocating it to modern times where Guy Gisborne runs the Northamptonshire city of Locksley for his own personal profit and through a mix of corruption and out and out thuggery. The (female) Sherriff turns a blind eye, and the disadvantaged and refugees bear the brunt. Opposition comes in the form of bands of rebels, one of which is based in a derelict Designer Outlet deep in the forest, and they take Robin in when he’s forced to flee into hiding, having fired an arrow in Gisborne’s ‘nuts’ (ahem).
As we’ve come to expect from Muchamore the action is pretty well non-stop and liberally sprinkled with humour, but there’s also a genuine sense that injustice of the kind represented by Gisborne needs to be tackled. There’s lots for girls to enjoy as well as boys – Marion Maid is much more than a sidekick, and I loved the fact that Robin completes his best act of robbing from the rich to give to the poor in the clothes of a ten-year old girl. Muchamore knows just how to keep the pages turning and this is the first in a series that promises quiverfulls of action and entertainment.