Title: The Accidental Highwayman
Author: Ben Tripp
Rating: ★ 1/2
Synopsis: In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher “Kit” Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man’s riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales. Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master’s quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with the feisty Princess Morgana, gobling attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows….
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this finished copy!
I wanted to love this book so badly. I love stories of highwaymen, swashbuckling, and being a servant who dons a hero’s mantle. However, a lot of this book just didn’t work for me personally.
Frankly, for all those things I mentioned above, this book is very dull. More problematic is the fact that the language feels almost too challenging for the audience is it being geared towards. Tripp borrow’s Pratchett’s signature, using footnotes to convey more pieces of the story while also using it to define words being used and its context, but even that feels very bogged down and boring. The footnotes are not interesting to read at all, and while I enjoyed the additional words I could add to my vocabulary, it added nothing to the story for me on a whole.
The Accidental Highwayman is also bogged down by the story’s romance. The romance is boring. Boring, boring, boring. It’s also so cliched and uninspired and if I’m being frank, I kind of found it a little on the suffoicating side. Everyone in the story outside of Kit feels too one-dimensial (the women, omg the women are painful), and there’s too much info-dumping at times to keep the story interesting. If anything, the story parts are bogged down by so much unnecessary information that it made me cry “get on with it!”
If I am saying that, there’s a problem.
For a middle grade swashbuckling adventure, there is way better out there. If you don’t mind being bogged down by tons of information or the flat characters, you could find some enjoyment here. While the adventure had it’s moments, they felt few and far between, making The Accidental Highwayman a tough book to recommend in the end.