Book Review: “The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne” by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Fantasy/Dystopia
Intended audience: YA
Date Read: 10/12/2022 – 09/12/2022


Jonathan Stroud is one of my few insta-buy authors. I loved the Bartimaeus trilogy and I loved Lockwood and Co. (looking forward to the Netflix series in January!). But this book… I don’t know. I think I liked it? Hence the three stars. But it took so long to get through and I did feel a bit dissatisfied at the end.

I think the main problem was that Stroud didn’t give us enough of… anything, really.

We know that there was a “Cataclysm” and that it has broken up the UK into a series of walled “Surviving Towns”, but we don’t know what caused it. We know that it caused wild animals to turn into giant mutations of themselves, and created a race of cannibalistic sub-humans known as The Tainted, but that’s about the extent of our knowledge.

We know a bit about how various religious faiths throughout the world have sort of amalgamated into one big Faith and religious authoritarianism is huge. We know that Scarlett lost someone, possibly to one of these Faith Houses but we don’t know anything about who it was, or the circumstances.

Being a closed book is a huge part of Scarlett’s character, but it does make it hard to get invested in her. All we really see is the bravado she puts on. As she starts to warm towards Albert, we get past the exterior a little bit, but I think a bit more was needed.

Albert, tbough, is an open book and such an interesting character. He’s been raised in an abusive environment, and up until the events of the book, has never been outside the walls of that environment. He is so naïve but so genuine, though his upbringing has taught him to be sneaky in some ways. I really loved his development throughout the story.

I am intrigued enough to read the second book. I do wonder if the first book was a whole lot of set-up and the next book will be more interesting. But I’m going to get it from the library.

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