Shadows of Sherwood--a Robyn Hoodlum Adventure, by Kekla Magoon (Bloomsbury, middle grade, August 2015), has a great premise, and delivers great adventure along with it. Twelve-year-old Robyn Loxley didn't set out to run afoul of the laws of Nott City, but when the new dictatorial government of Ignomus Crown, ran afoul of her family something fierce, taking her parents prisoner, she had no choice. She was supposed to have been taken too, but managed to escape. Now she is a fugitive, searching for answers, and finding herself become one of a band of young people who, like her, are enemies of the government. Echoing the adventures of Robin Hood, Robyn and her friends "release" food and medicine to the oppressed, and just barely stay one jump ahead of the law enforcers. But there is more afoot than simply outlaw escapades. There's a movement underway to overthrow Crown, lead by those who believe in the old stories of moon magic, and Robyn learns that she might be just the catalyst the rebels need to succeed....
So into the Robin Hood reimagining comes another, more fantastic story. I enjoyed recognizing the allies that Robyn makes as their Robin Hood characters, and I liked the outlawish fun and survival one step ahead of the law parts much more than I liked the moon magic, but I can see how the later adds depth to the story, setting up a path that might actually take Robyn to victory over the oppressors.
Robyn is still a fledgling heroine here, though she had (fortuitously) been practicing stealth and climbing and scavenging and other useful skills before the story begins. She's not a great leader--it is stretching the truth to say that her plans are really planned, and she relies heavily on luck, and on her allies. She's also not great at working with allies, almost driving her new young friends away; she's used to operating alone, and her desperate need to get her parents back sometimes blinds her to what's happening around her. But she is a good catalyst, not just because of her affinity for the moon magic (which is prophecy and story at this point, as opposed to a functional tool for outlaws).
The story moves pretty briskly from adventurous action to less adventurous daily life in hiding; the two are nicely balanced, and the quieter moments give the secondary characters who are Robyn's new co-outlaws a chance to become more real. The result is a very good read, maybe not really believable, but lots of fun. Especially if you are a Robin Hood fan!
(Robyn is brown skinned girl with a poofy mass of black hair (kept tightly braided) in a world where her politician father's own dark skin was a noticeable difference from the norm. So yay for another diverse middle grade heroine!)