Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Review of The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud

The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne  by Jonathan Stroud
Publisher:  Walker Books
Number of pages:  400
Published: April 1st, 2021 in the United Kingdom
Source:  purchased 

Opening Lines: "That morning, with the dawn hanging wet and pale over the marshes, Scarlett McCain woke up beside four dead men.  Four!  She hadn't realized it had been so many.  No wonder she felt stiff."

Description from Goodreads:  
Scarlett McCain is an outlaw, a bank robber and a sharp shooter--a girl of formidable skills. Fueled by a tragic injustice in her past, she travels the broken kingdoms of England alone, carrying out daring heists in the surviving towns and fending off monstrous beasts in the wilds outside their fortified walls. Her life is dangerous, free, and simple--until she finds a wrecked bus on a lonely road. Albert Browne, the sole survivor of the accident, is a seemingly innocent and harmless youth. Against her better judgement, Scarlett agrees to escort him to safety.

This is a mistake. They are soon pursued by men with dogs and guns and explosives. Scarlett is used to running from the law, but these trackers are the most skilled she's ever encountered--and they don't seem to be after her. Just who is this Albert Browne Scarlett must uncover his shocking secrets if either of them are going to survive.

Before starting this review there's a few things you should know.  Number one, I adore Jonathan's Stroud's books, Lockwood & Company, Bartimaeus, I've read both of the series,  eagerly devouring each new release.  Stroud is on my auto buy list of authors.  Number two, I've never purchased a book from the U.K.  usually I end up waiting for the U.S. release, but this time, I just couldn't wait until October before getting my hands on The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne.

Scarlett is a complicated character, a contradiction of personality traits.  On the one hand she has no problem shooting anyone who stands in her way, beaming a person in the back of the head, or stealing your last dollar.  While at the same time Scarlett also has a gentler, introspective side, where she drops a coin into her cuss box for the occasional curse words that escapes her lips, and the moments of quiet reflection she demands to pray on her mat and contemplate life.  She's snarky, loyal, somewhat of a loner, fast with a gun and adept at evading capture.  Complicated.   So when she first meets Albert, you'd think she'll just rob him, and take off.  But Albert appears docile, naïve and she can't help but feel sorry for the kid who's been stuck in the toilet.  He's intriguing to her and she knows there's more to him than meets the eye.  He's like a deer stuck in the headlights, not sure where to move or if he should move at all.  Together they appear to be an unlikely duo.  But Albert has such a pleasant demeanor, he's optimistic and excited about all the new things he see's.  Sure he's skinny, clumsy, defenseless, and likely to get himself into trouble pretty quick.  He's defiantly not the kind of travel companion that Scarlett had ever envisioned or ever really wanted.  Yet, Scarlett seems to respect Albert's desire for freedom, and she did promise to help him.  

Both Scarlett and Albert are instantly likeable characters, they'll make you laugh, fret and most of all have you eager for more stories about their adventures.  And what a story this was.  I loved watching their friendship broaden and develop into a strong bond.  The way that they depended on each other, and the balance that existed between Scarlett's quick wit and gun skills with Albert's special ability.  The post-apocalyptic England was also interesting, albeit slightly creepy with its Tainted, kind of reminiscent of something from The Walking Dead.  And who could forget Doctor Calloway?  The maniacal doctor intent on hunting down Albert.  Ah, but I'm still left with so many questions about how all this came to be and certainly  would love to know more about Scarlett's past.  What led her to become an outlaw?  She appears to be religious and what is her connection to the Faith House? Yeah, can't wait to learn more in the next book.  For now, Lockwood & Company will still be my favorite Jonathan Stroud series, but Scarlett is defiantly right up there with the Skull and Bartimaeus in terms of my favorite Stroud characters. 

Side note:  Which cover appeals to you more?   I like that we can see Scarlett's red hair in the US cover but I really like the YA western vibes of the UK one.       


  1. I'm so jealous! I'm not up to October titles yet, but I'm really looking forward to this one. Definitely prefer likeable characters, even if they are flawed, although apparently unlikeable characters are having their heyday, but we're not allowed to say we don't like them! Thanks for the sneak peak!

  2. Those are both great covers. I only read Jonathan Stroud's first series. I'll try to add this one to my TBR list. It sounds kind of dystopian.

  3. I think I prefer the first cover as it puts the focus on the characters, which I like.

  4. I haven't read anything by this author. Sounds like an interesting book. I think both covers look good- but I would probably be drawn more to the US cover. Thanks for sharing. :)