ARC Review: THE HOOD by Lavie Tidhar

I received an eARC from the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in spray-paint-esque writing in white on green
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 2 stars
Series: yes - second of companion/similar style books


Book cover for THE HOOD: title in spray-paint-esque white on top

God bless you, England, on this glorious Year of Our Lord, 1145.

Don’t cross the Templars. Everybody knows that. But Will Scarlet, back from the crusades, hopped up on khat and cider, did. Stabbed thrice in the belly but somehow still alive, he’s heading home to Nottingham.

And things are not right in Nottingham.

It’s the wood, you see. Sherwood. Ice-age ancient, impenetrable, hiding a dark and secret heart. As the ancient sages say, If you go into the woods today, you may not come out tomorrow, and the person who comes out may not be you…

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This book is bizarre. It’s a Robin Hood retelling that doesn’t resemble any of the Robin Hood stories I know – it’s literally just the names that I recognise in this weird mash up of 12th century England (from the Anarchy through Henry II) with hallucinogenic mushrooms and dangerous forests.

The promised bizarre tone was what interested me in the book, and it would have been great – if I’d been able to follow the plot better. But I simply could not work out what was happening or why.

The first part of the problem was it felt like little vignettes of different unrelated characters for so long that I lost track of who was in the book, what they wanted, and what on earth they were doing. Their events rarely impact on the lives of others, so if I wasn’t interested in a certain of the many POVs, there was little to engage me in reading it, just tapping my foot until they stopped talking and someone I liked better came along. That’s never promising for attention or following along. The first two characters introduced then vanished for ages, so I was left wondering why I’d spent 50 pages with them.

The tone also randomly changed with some characters. Nearly everything was told in third person (a mix of present and past tense), but one person was writing letters (that had the weirdest formatting, I think to try and show some bits were crossed out? But it just looked like a formatting error highlighting it in black with white letters that was rather tricky to read at times.) It was such a sudden change that every time it came up it threw me out of the story.

The other part of the problem was that wasn’t a goal or destination apparent in the story. Some characters had individual goals, some just seemed to be there, but there was nothing uniting them or hinting at what come. Without that glimmer of what it might all be leading to (which doesn’t have to be real, as a good twist subverts and redirects), the forward momentum usually slackens for me and the tension is undercut. This happened here.

It was rather disappointing, as the premise sounded so much fun in this book, but the execution just made it a slog for me to read as I was too confused.

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