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New Book Series Brings Girl Power to Sherwood Forest

The first novel in a new series for kids aged 10 to 14, “Young Marian A Viper in the Forest” casts Maid Marian in the leading role.


Milton / Ontario / Canada – WEBWIRE
Young Marian A Viper in the Forest, the new middle grade novel from Mandy Webster
Young Marian A Viper in the Forest, the new middle grade novel from Mandy Webster

I wanted to write a book that would encourage girls to see it in a new light. Marian stands strong in a medieval world not always friendly to women. I hope her courage inspires girls.

In time for the Robin Hood Festival in England from August 3rd to 9th, author Mandy Webster puts a feminist spin on a classic tale. “I’ve always loved Robin Hood, but we usually hear the story from the male point of view, and the female characters are primarily the love interest,” says Webster. “I wanted to write a book that would encourage girls to see it in a new light. Marian stands strong in a medieval world not always friendly to women. I hope her courage inspires girls.”

A prequel to the classic stories, Marian and Robin are growing up in Sherwood Forest – not yet living the outlaw life most readers will be familiar with. Despite their youth, they face mortal peril before the end of this swashbuckling adventure.

Webster is Canadian but a move to England as a teenager sparked her love of English folktales and historical fiction. “The area where I lived was steeped in Arthurian legend. I loved books like The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart.” Webster’s favourite portrayals of Marian and Robin came from the BBC. “I loved the 80’s Robin of Sherwood, and the 2006 version, but it was always Marian’s story that drew me and I was left wanting more. My current favourite show is BBC’s The Musketeers. Again – although I love the boys – my favourite character is Constance.”  Webster realized if she wanted the heroine front and center, she’d have to take matters into her own hands.

"Part Katniss Everdeen – capable and fearless; part Hermione Granger – smart, sensible, and a grounding influence on her more impulsive friends; part (BBC’s) Constance Bonacieux – brave, adventurous, and oblivious to her own charms,” Marian combines these qualities with humour, warmth and a strong sense of justice and loyalty.

Aimed at middle grades, romance takes a back seat to action, but the possibility’s left open for love to bloom in future books. Guy of Gisbane is a potential rival for Marian’s affections.

Ideal for young readers looking for an independent, fearless heroine, the book is about 46,000 words and 182 pages long. 

Mandy Webster writes for a popular children’s website, has edited an online parenting magazine, and worked as an ad copywriter. This is her first novel.


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 middle grade novel
 Robin Hood
 Maid Marian
 Medieval history children
 Heroine’s journey


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