Book Review: The Outlaws Scarlett And Browne by Jonathan Stroud

The Outlaws Scarlett And Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. 9780593430361. 421pp.

I have great memories of reading Stroud’s Bartimaeus series and his standalone novel Heroes of the Valley with my daughter when she was a kid, and this entertaining page turner brought those memories right back. Sent in a steampunkish post-apocalyptic England filled with deadly creatures, walled cities, and adults who are jerks (and worse), the book centers on Scarlet, a lovable scoundrel who has penchants for violence and bank robbery. Fleeing the scene of a crime she meets the slight and awkward Albert Browne, alone in the wilderness. The two quickly find they’re being hunted by an armed group; Scarlett assumes they’re after her and the money she stole, but it turns out she’s wrong. Albert has a few surprises for her, including one that will help her career as a criminal (though that doesn’t seem to need much help).

The book isn’t entirely a nonstop chase at breakneck speed, though there’s always danger nearby. But I never doubted that Scarlett was a match for all challenges, including the stylish and nasty big bad she and Albert face at the end.


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