Marian and Robin’s carefree childhood in Sherwood Forest takes a dark turn when the arrival of a cruel new lord sets off a series of intrigues including robbery, kidnapping and murder.
Marian watches in horror as the man strides, weapon in hand, toward where Robin lies helpless. But when Robin’s plan to exact vengeance goes awry, Marian must risk her own life to save him.
A rash of robberies has been plaguing the great houses of Nottinghamshire. Knowing what she does about him, Marian is forced to ask herself whether Robin is capable of the crime spree or if his was just a one-off act of revenge.
Marian’s attempts to uncover the truth lead her into the path of the handsome young Guy of Gisbane - and danger. Kidnapped and hopelessly lost in the forest, Marian has only her wits to rely on if she and Robin hope to survive.
The idea for the Young Marian series came about in 2012 but the inspiration for the series probably began when author Mandy Webster moved to England at age 17. It was here she first became entranced by English folklore, particularly the stories of King Arthur, and the tales of Robin Hood. Scenes from the popular 80s BBC TV series Robin of Sherwood were also shot nearby.
As a writer for the popular children’s online game Webkinz, Mandy has written for children for years but always harboured a desire to author a children’s book of her own. Her fascination with Robin Hood, England and medieval times never faded and became the focus of her first novel.
It was only after she began working on the novel however that it occurred to Mandy that the story of Maid Marian had rarely been told. That sparked the idea to put the young lady into the starring role in her own series.
Mandy’s writing career has evolved over the years but began at Brunico Communications. During her time there, Mandy worked her way up from Production Assistant to Creative Director of Advertising. It was there Mandy had her first articles published and did her first ad copywriting. From Brunico, Mandy went to work as a copywriter at ACLC Advertising, where she wrote national television, radio, outdoor and print campaigns.
In 1997, Mandy quit her job at ACLC to stay at home with her new baby. A few years and another baby later, Mandy started her own advertising business, combining her background in graphic design and copywriting to offer her clients a one-stop shop. She also worked in traditional media, drawing and painting, and has designed fleece baby blankets for a successful Canadian blanket company.
After her third son started school, Mandy returned to work full time. At Webkinz, her passion for writing for children flourished. And that, combined with her love of reading to her three kids, convinced her to finally put pen to paper, and bring to life the story of Young Marian.
Wow, that was really a fantastic book! I’m considering buying a copy for my younger (12-year-old) brother for Christmas. I think he might like it, especially since my mother’s reading The Adventures of Robin Hood to him now. I think my nine-year-old brother might enjoy it, too.
This is an amazing retelling (or rather prequel) of the Robin Hood story. Told from thirteen-year-old Maid Marian’s point of view, A Viper in the Forest tells the story of Robin and Marian’s first escapade (at least, I assume this was the first one that put them in danger of anything but a whipping!).
This is an exciting, adventurous, twistful tale that anyone, male or female, over the age of ten is sure to enjoy. If you buy it, remember to set aside a weekend, because you will not be putting it down.
It was completely impossible for me, when Mandy Webster emailed me with a copy of Viper in the Forest to request a review, to say no to it. Middle Grade fiction, yay. Empowered female protagonist, Yay. On top of that, set in the Olde Forest of Sherwood, with a new take on the tale of Robin Hood. Having been born and spent much of my life in Sherwood Forest you would think I would be bored of the stories by now, but I’m really not, and I was interested to see if Webster’s take was as exciting as she made it sound.
What we’re doing here is joining Marian and Robin in their formative years, before the legend, as it were, as a spate of mysterious robberies sweep Nottingham.
Now, to put the book’s best foot forward I have to talk about Marian here because she is exactly what I hoped she would be when I heard the tag line for the book ‘Sherwood Forest has a new hero’. She’s powerful without being over stated, smart without question, and to top it all off the level of obstinacy she displays in infuriating.
This is a good thing? I hear you ask. Yes, it is, because I hate it when books claim to have female heroines to solve the problem of lack of strong females in literature, only to make them infallible and, as a result, boring. Marion was certainly not boring, she was engaging, I liked her and even when I disagreed with her I rooted for her to come out on top.
That said Marian is the highlight character, the others that surround her, Robin especially, while being well crafted, were not likeable, at all. I’ll focus on the example of Robin; who was, and I haven’t called anyone this since I was ten but there’s really no other word for it, an absolute butt-head. Brash to the point of lunacy and obnoxious beyond the point of likability, I thought at first his presence was going to be a nudge-nudge wink-wink moment where he gets all the credit because man, while Marian, the token sensible, is, in fact, doing all the work.
But no, turns out the reader is supposed to like Robin in his own right and Marian (these are the bits where she is at her most annoying), keeps insisting he’s a good man and her friend. I just don’t see it, perhaps some scenes where Robin isn’t behaving like a selfish idiot would have helped me to agree with her, but no, there’s a bit of a nasty case of tell don’t show here.
That said, even with the relationship between the two main characters being shaky, at best, the plot of the book and the adventure Marian goes on to uncover it is not ruined. Actually, it’s rather engaging, not overly complex to be sure, but very well written, presented and paced and 100% appropriate for the middle-grade audience it’s aimed at.
There’s a few really nice nods to the history in the legend as well, Webster has used all the proper dated names, and in the moment’s where Marian is walking around the market or the keep you can see there’s been effort into describing period appropriate items and actions, and it gives the book a more tangible feel that I enjoyed rather a lot. It was a nice touch.
I can’t give the book “full marks” because I feel a trick really was missed with the supporting cast and, by extension, the relationships between them, but the strong lead character and the easy yet interesting plot still kept me reading and I finished having enjoyed myself.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s not often that characters as famous as Maid Marian and Robin Hood are brought into stories as children. It gives them more depth than they previously had.
These are beloved characters and I was very happy to see this author do them justice.
Most of what I have read about Marian made her out to be this damsel in distress. Not this book. In this book she is the one doing most of the saving. She is a badass. She gives Robin a run for his money.
This sets an incredible example for young women. This book stresses Marian as an equal to Robin. It has woman power written all over it.
A very refreshing tone for a story set in medieval times.
I very much enjoyed this book. It does a good job of retelling the story of Robinhood, but as youngsters and from Marian's POV. She is a strong, independent, likable character that I think a lot of children especially little girls can look up to.
I really have no complaints. It was an easy read that is age appropriate. It leaves off at a point where it can segue into the second book and in a way where you want to continue reading to find out if Robin's suspicions are correct about Guy.
In this excellent YA tale, a teen-aged Maid Marian shows that she is far from the winsome and demure young lady who captures the heart of Robin Hood in later life. In fact, this compelling book gives us an extraordinary look at what might have been the genesis of their relationship -- and it's a story that will capture the hearts and minds of adult readers, too.
We first meet Robin, Marian and Midge as they are scampering to their secret treehouse with goodies they've liberated from the castle's kitchen. Soon, however, things take a much more serious turn as Robin is about to be horsewhipped for interfering with the punishment of a local carpenter.
Luckily, Marian's father, the Sheriff of Nottingham, intervenes just in time, and the tale takes off from there, with Marian firmly in the lead. She makes a strong female protagonist, and it is refreshing to see this courageous young woman portrayed as something radically different from the passive maiden we're used to seeing.
Deprived of her mother since birth, she quickly grew into a tomboy -- despite the best efforts of Robin's mother to slow her down:
"The mistress of Loxley took the child under her wing and schooled her in the ways of a lady. (But) Marian knew she would never handle a needle and thread with the proficiency with which she wielded a sword."
Still, there's a strong protective streak in Marian when it comes to fourteen-year-old Robin, whose headstrong ways lead him into all sorts of peril. One night she gets wind of his adolescent plot to burgle the home of a neighboring nobleman. She sets off after him, riding in man's clothing through the night. The author's description draws the reader into the moment with practiced ease:
"Poppy's hoofbeats echoed through the lonely laneways. The quiet was briefly broken by the shouts and laughter of the drunken clientele as they passed the brightly lit tavern outside the walls of the castle. Then the sounds faded into nothingness as Marian and her mount sped toward the forest."
It's not all midnight rides and swordfights, however. There's a hint of romance as Marian can't seem to get the thought of one young man out of her mind -- even though she's been betrothed since birth to Robin. Her conflicting feelings confuse and bebother her.
But a new mystery throws these thoughts aside as the countryside is roused in search of a bold robber, who strikes wealthy homeowners in the dead of night while they sleep peacefully upstairs.
Robin swears it's not him. But, then, who could it be? Marian decides to find out. But events take an unexpected turn and Marian's curiosity leads her into a situation for which she is totally unprepared.
This is an imaginative tale with good guys and bad guys, medieval merrymaking and sinister plot twists that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Don't miss this five-star gem. Download today!
Ever wonder about the life of Maid Marian before the perceptions we all have had based on The Adventures of Robin Hood? Would you like to introduce a young adult to the wonderful world of reading? Buy this book!! A wonderful gift.
What a terrific first novel! The middle ages in England is beautifully conveyed. Marian is far from a doey-eyed damsel in distress needing rescued, but a strong lead character. Colorful and enchanting in detail, you’ll find yourself page-turning and staying up too late. I’m looking forward to a continuation of the series.
It brings the reader into the young lives of Robin, Marian, and Midge. A great YA story for the young and young at heart before Robin had merry men and before Marian was just another maiden needing rescuing. My favorite line was from Marian. "“You never give me any credit for anything! Not once do you acknowledge when I get you out of a scrape, and then you expect me to swoon like some damsel in distress when you –” said to Robin. Highly recommended.
I found this to be a great little adventure, with wonderful imagery ( love Sherwood Forest ) and really fun characters. Although I've never been a big fan of the whole Robin Hood / Maid Marian story, I very much enjoyed their younger selves. Marian a brave little spitfire and Robin with his boyhood charm already fighting for the justice of others made for an entertaining read. I've already passed this along to a friend and my grandson is in line as well.
I can't sayI found this book hard to ready: both the story and style are not what I am used to. Maybe it is because English is not my mother tongue, but even the characters and their behaviours upset me, they sounded fake, overblown, far from reality.
I'm a bit older than the intended age range for Viper in the Forest but I still ended up enjoying it. Webster does a good job of writing for younger readers without dumbing down any of it. This is definitely a must for any kids who are fans of Robin Hood.
I enjoyed this story. The Robin Hood legend has always fascinated me. I grew up reading a series about a girl called Rowan, who discovers she's Robin Hood's daughter. This story puts yet another twist on the old legend, by telling it from Marian's point of view. This isn't the Robin Hood of legend, though! It's set in a time when they're still young, long before Robin Hood became the famous woodland-dwelling outlaw. Even Guy of Gisborne has an appearance, one that is both intriguing and heartbreaking, knowing as I do what fate lies in store for him...
Although for a younger audience, I found this an enjoyable and quick read, and will definitely check out the sequel when it arrives.