Book Reviews

Book review: Lambs Can Always Become Lions by Charlotte Anne Hamilton

Lambs

Author: Charlotte Anne Hamilton

Pages: 15

Genre: Historical fiction, Romance, Adventure

Edition: E-book

Publication Date: 15th May 2017

Read: 15th May – 17th May 2017

Rating: 3-stars

‘Her heart was beating against her chest; her ribs were the anvil, her heart the hammer.’

Goodreads synopsis

Robin Hood, along with her group of friends, has been aiding the poor of Nottingham for four years. They have become an hindrance to the Sheriff of Nottingham, terrorising the rich lords and ladies and robbing gold right from under the Sheriff’s nose.

Helping Robin from inside, and proving her most useful ally, is Lady Marian Fitzwalter.

After hearing about a special shipment coming through Sherwood – filled with gold, jewels and weapons – Marian agrees to help Robin gather information so she can ambush it. It is risky and dangerous on both sides but Marian would do anything for Robin. And Robin would do anything to feed her people.

But as the shipment draws closer and tensions rise, Robin finds herself having to decide which is more important: love or duty.

Review

If you’re looking for a gentle, compassionate f/f romance story with a little action and drama to boot, you’ve found the right book.

Lambs Can Always Become Lions is a short novella re-telling of Robin Hood as a woman. She’s still the leader of outlaws and still in love with Marion, but she’s a woman rather than a man. Although by no means an original concept, I’ve always found gender-bending to be a great way of exploring gender constructs and sexuality, so I was wholly on board with this premise. And, honestly, I prefer Robin Hood as a woman. She’s confident, witty, and sarcastic in equal measures and she never once considers herself inferior to men.

I actually think the story would have benefited more from having other characters as women too, or even the entire band of outlaws. It would be like Sailor Moon meets Sherwood Forest. But as Robin takes front and centre stage, I can understand why she’s the only one.

Her relationship with Marion is tender, full of warmth, and was perhaps my favourite aspect of the novella.  Their fierce protectiveness of each other was understandable, but constantly hindered their ability to carry a plan to fruition. I did, however, really enjoy the scene when they fought together against guards who were presumably all men. Power to the women.

It would also have been great to see the other outlaws developed further, as we don’t get much detail about their characters. This is likely due to the brevity of the story, but Little John, Much, Edda and the rest end up being sidelined by Robin and Marion for much of the plot. The Sheriff, too, was rudimentary as a villain for me, and didn’t feel like enough of a threat until the very end.

The end of the story, though, was definitely the apex; the showdown between Robin and the Sheriff and the outlaws’ desperate escape from the castle was as dramatic as it was tense. Up until this point, the chapters had been reasonably slow-paced, but this sequence really changed gears. Hamilton’s strength seems to lie in writing fight scenes, as they were engaging, vigorous, and bold.

The true strength of this novella lies in its diversity; Edda is a Muslim, Will is gender-fluid/non-binary, Marion and Robin are lesbians, and it’s hinted that Little John is asexual. The characters accept each other for who they are, and no-one is judged on their orientations. In a current climate where prejudice against marginalised people persists in every-day life, this was refreshing and powerful to read. Despite being set in historical England, it has hints of a society we should strongly aspire to.

Overall, this was a fun adventure of a story, full of diversity and action. I hope we get to see more of the secondary characters in the next book, and I’m curious to see where Robin and Marion’s relationship heads next.

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