Series: Adventures of Kit Bristol #1
Published by Tor Teen on October 14, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp.
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….
Fans of classic fairy-tale fantasies will find much to love in this irresistible YA debut by Ben Tripp, the son of one of America’s most beloved illustrators, Wallace Tripp (Amelia Bedelia). Following in his father’s footsteps, Ben has woven illustrations throughout the story.
The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp is a fun adventure about a young man named Kit and a green eyed princess that steals his heart. Reminiscent of The Princess Bride, the story has everything a fantasy reader desires from witches to goblings (NOT goblins), high speed horse chases, and a complex bee messenger system that will leave the reader aching for the sequel.
Tripp really has an uncanny ability to create characters that come alive with dialogue that surpasses anything I have read in a while. Personally, I quickly fell in love with out protagonist, Kit. He starts out as a loyal and nervous servant that shies from adventure and as he is pushed to go on a quest to save a princess from an arranged marriage, he learns courage and all the while retains his big heart. I found Kit so charming because he was so human – he laughs at his own follies, he says the wrong thing to the girl, and he fumbles through love. It was very refreshing that Kit’s teenage woes were not over the top – his missteps were written in a light hearted and funny way. In fact his first realization of love is not of stale sonnets but thoughts of toast! He describes: “…she looked up at me and smiled her radiant secret smile, the one that bewitched me. I thought to myself, this must be what warm toast feels like when butter melts into it.” *Swoon*
Kit continues to entertain with amusing monologues throughout the story. On one occasion, as he seeks refuge from rain in an inn with the princess and an ex-performing troupe mate and her baboon, he comments that “the landlord did not know what to make of me, as you can imagine – had I broken both their hearts? But why the ape? His imagination must have composed tales around the four of us that would have daunted Shakespeare’s powers of invention.” Even as Kit awaits his sentencing for a hanging when wrongly accused for his “accidental” crimes he made me laugh out loud as he recalls: “My sentence came just before lunch, and delayed the meal, which I think may have influenced the judge’s remarks…Like a ripe pear, Mr. Whistling, you are soon to be plucked from the Branch…Like a pear, I say, but your face will be the color of a plum, and your head – swollen similarly, so that you will also resemble a roast of beef; as the pheasant hangs until its flesh has become fragrant, so shall you hang.”
This book is truly a fun read – it is entertaining to the end and takes itself lightly. The story is interesting, fast paced, and filled with charming characters. The author even makes a note of “skipping” over the boring bits as the characters travel across the country – hoorah, no temptation to skip dull pages to get to the juicy parts (no food pun intended). The cover art is gorgeous (because let’s face it – it matters!), there are illustrations, and for Terry Pratchett fans out there – footnotes! Plus the best part? The princess saves the boy.
Faerie reports of the corrupt Captain’s pursuit of our protagonist, Kit –
Captain Sterne, what wants to stretch your neck, has gone haring off eastward…Apparently the captain thinks you’re so cunning you’d double back and return to your original route, knowing he’d follow thee to the west because he thinks you’d go east, and therefore west, but east, and so forth. North and south didn’t come up. Which goes to show you’re more cunning than he because you’re not actually cunning at all. Which is clever.