The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp (4 out of 5)
What a delightful read this was! I have to admit, the cover got me first. Then it invoked pleasant memories of my growing up watching Adam Ant videos (Stand and Deliver, among others, in which he plays, well, a dandy highwayman). I won’t lie; for a portion of this, as I read it, I did hear “Stand and Deliver” in my head. If you have a semi-childlike spirit, you’ll enjoy this. Those who enjoyed “The Princess Bride” or “Robin Hood” will love this. If you like adventure, fun, and a little adventure dashed with a side of romance, this is a great little place to start.
Christopher “Kit” Bristol is servant to Master John Rattle. He awakens one night to a disturbance in his master’s quarters and comes upon the gravely wounded body of his master on the kitchen table, dying. Rattle tells him to flee, take the dog and horse, and ask no questions. Kit does this, donning his master’s clothing, and quickly finds himself chased by all sorts of doubtful ruffians. He also finds out quickly that his master was the infamous highwayman “Whistling Jack”, who roamed the roads, holding up carriages and robbing the patrons of their valuables, and in the process, is a wanted criminal across the lands. They see Kit in the clothes, they mistake him for Whistling Jack, and his life is never the same. He sees magic happen right in front of him, meets magical creatures that he thought were the things of legends, and meets the beguiling Princess Morgana, whom he’s supposed to protect, according to ancient lore. Morgana is a little firecracker, Kit is a little scared, his enemies (rather, the victims of Jack, the actual highwayman) are on his tail, and we’re all provided with quite an entertaining ride. Does Kit ever get to be Kit? Does he outrun the redcoats? Does he win the heart, or at least the respect, of Morgana? Does he ever find shelter, clear up his identity? Does the reader stop having fun? No, the reader has fun throughout the entire book. That’s why you need to read it.
What else is wonderful? The illustrations throughout. Reading level recommended for this is 12-18 years old, but fear not, this 41 year old loved it, and you will also!