This exciting new fantasy series will blow you away!
Updated: Sep 17
The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud
A fugitive bank robber named Scarlett McCain roams the ravaged landscape of the dystopic future to which she belongs. Her world has much more in common with the wild west than the 21st century. Ordinary animals have evolved into extremely large and dangerous predators - even a trout can be lethal. Far deadlier are the towns and the puritanical Faith Houses who run them. There, any perceived deviation or deformity is punishable by death, or fates that are even worse. If you escape the towns, the Faith House operatives, the militia and the beasts lurking in the wilderness, there's always "The Tainted" to finish you off. These are mysterious zombie-like savages who move in packs and devour humans. As desolate as this universe sounds, Jonathan Stroud makes it an incredibly appealing fictional destination. It’s such a cleverly constructed, convincing and intriguing place, and I didn’t want to leave.
I love how Stroud writes! His beautiful, descriptive language is in stark contrast to the bleak surroundings it describes and makes the world Stroud has crafted more vivid and compelling. Even the passages containing violence or conveying terror read like poetry. The characters are amazing and as complicated and contradictory as real people. I love all the humour in the witty exchanges between Scarlett and her friends and foes.
The characters are among the most memorable I’ve ever met. Scarlett is fantastic – so quick, clever and agile, and a formidable warrior who conceals a tender heart beneath her prickly exterior. Albert, the clumsy but gentle runaway with whom Scarlett becomes inadvertently and inextricably entangled, is just as wonderful. The companions they later befriend are brilliant too.
This is probably the most action-packed and thrilling book I’ve ever read - at times it felt more like watching a film than reading. I found it hard to breathe during some parts. When a severed head unexpectedly appeared in one scene, it felt like it was in the same room as me. Although the tension is razor-sharp from start to finish, this book is so much fun to read. The world it evokes is begging to be further explored. I can’t wait to get to know it and its characters better and am looking forward to the next book in this exciting new series already.
About the author: Jonathan Stroud wrote his first novel – Buried Fire – while working as an editor at Walker Books. He is the author of two internationally bestselling series: the award-winning Bartimaeus sequence, which has been published in 36 languages worldwide, and the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co, which is currently being adapted by Netflix. His other novels include The Leap, The Last Siege and Heroes of the Valley. Jonathan lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three children.
A huge thanks to Walker Books for the advance reader copy I received via NetGalley - all opinions expressed are my own.