The ultimate working class yeoman hero, Robin Hood is the legendary outlaw of countless literary works and major motion picture films. Originating through oral story telling dating back at the very least 13th century England, Robin Hood and his band of “Merry Men” have captivated the imaginations of children and adults alike throughout the English speaking world for centuries. Steven A. McKay picks up on the tradition of the mythological Robin Hood of many English writers and story tellers in his debut novel Wolf’s Head, and his rendition of the adventures of Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, Much, Will Scarlet and band of outlaws does not disappoint. One word of warning: this action packed novel is not for children. It contains adult themes, all well placed, realistic and plot-specific.
Unlike most Robin Hood plots set during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart, McKay’s Robin Hood begins his life as an outlaw during the 14th century reign of King Edward II, when Lancasterians rebelled the king’s authority and chosen patronages. In making this choice, the plot remains fresh and original throughout — essential to telling a Robin Hood story that the reader finds engaging. The story begins in Wakefield, Yorkshire, setting for the reader Robin’s youth, family ties, and close relationships with his friend Much and girlfriend, Matilda. Then McKay takes the reader on an exciting and fast-paced journey of Robin’s transition from a strong, athletic 17 year old leading an average life in Wakefield to an outlaw living deep in the forest, with a price on his head.
McKay’s major strengths in writing Wolf’s Head include excellent development of all characters, quick and exciting plot movements, rich historical detail, and wonderful use of reversals within his sentence structures and the plot itself. The reversals in particular are quite effective in keeping the reader guessing and engaged. It is truly difficult to put this book down, and I easily completed reading it in two sittings. The rich character development leaves the reader engrossed in the lives of several of the major characters, leading the reader to decide who exactly is the favored outlaw, Robin Hood or someone else. McKay also very effectively writes the novel initially with two parallel plot lines, telling the stories of Robin Hood and another major characters who eventually come together in an unexpected and exciting way.
No spoilers here, but this is not your father’s Robin Hood. This independently published novel is well worth the read and will leave you wanting a sequel, pronto. The Big 5 Publishers missed the boat completely in not picking this fun novel up. Don’t make the same mistake.