When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen.
The Forest Queen was my first foray into Betsy Cornwell’s books and I feel like I made the right choice starting with this one. It’s pitched as a gender swapped retelling of Robin Hood but it’s so much more than that. While that description will definitely be what draws readers to it, the amazing cast of characters, sweet romance, and fast-paced story will be what keeps readers hooked.
Going into The Forest Queen, I really did not have any kind of expectations. That worked in my favor here. With no prior knowledge of Betsy Cornwell’s writing and no reviews for this one floating around in my head, I was able to enjoy The Forest Queen for exactly what it was; a Robin Hood retelling centering around a group of empowered females. There was more to it than that but those were by far my favorite aspects of the story.
Sylvie of Loughsley was not a fabulous heroine at the start of the story. She was raised with money and she had only ever known privilege. When her brother, Sheriff John of Loughsley, promises to marry her to a man she barely knows, she decides it’s past time to move to the forest with her best friend Bird. It was difficult for me to get past Sylvie’s inability to do anything for herself as well as her naivete when it came to the rest of the world. She left with Bird and Little Jane with almost no thought and no idea how she was going to survive in the forest.
If it hadn’t been for Bird, Little Jane, and the other townspeople who joined them in the forest, Sylvie never would have survived. Little Jane surprised me from the start. She had an extremely rough go of it and while she had her moments of weakness, she proved herself to be a very strong, capable young woman. She constantly impressed me with her strength of character.
As far as romance went, it was obvious from the start that there was more than just friendship between Bird and Sylvie. It was a huge draw for me to keep reading because I wanted to see how things would develop between them. Bird and Sylvie had some great chemistry between them. Their relationship was very much a slow burn which made me love it even more.
Overall, The Forest Queen has me intrigued enough to give Betsy Cornwell’s other books a chance. Robin Hood fans will definitely find something to love about The Forest Queen and even if that’s not a retelling you’re fond of, there are enough unique elements that you can find something to enjoy about this one.