The Accidental Highwayman

 The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp, is quite a good book, and I highly recommend that people read it (because then they might have a basic idea of faeries and the fay people in general, and understand what nerds like me blather on about). But, of course, I’ll give you better reasons than that.

I will be honest from the start – it may take a few pages to get into. The style of writing is rather old-fashioned, and takes some getting used to, but the author is very helpful, and he often provides a definition when an odd name or phrase comes up.

This book tells the tale of the young Kit Bristol, whose proper name is Christopher Bristol, but why use your real name when you have a nickname? Kit is a servant to James Rattle, who – oh, forgive me. Kit is the servant of the reclusive James Rattle. They live in the Rattle Manse, a large but dilapidated mansion. Now, one day, Kit wakes up in the middle of the night to find his master lying on the floor as if dead. Which he isn’t, but he’s grievously wounded, and so Kit puts on Rattle’s coat and rides to get help. Unfortunately for Kit, he is wearing the clothes of Whistling Jack, the infamous highwayman, and is thus pursued by the vengeful Captain Sterne, who was sent to capture all highwaymen but has a particular hatred for Whistling Jack.

And so Kit is launched into an epic quest with his faithful horse Midnight to finish a fantastical task that his master was unable to complete, following a strange map that seems to be able to tell the future, and so changes with different choices – but no matter what, it always ends with the same foreboding picture, predicting a man hanged in a noose. Along the way, many other interesting characters with their own dark or humorous backstories are introduced,  including a ‘halfsie’ princess, a mad uncle, a baboon who may or may not be able to speak French, and, as Ben Tripp says himself, ‘sundry magical folk besides’.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It occurred in the U.K. (England, for the most part) at some time in the 1700s, so it makes sense why the writing and the way the characters speak is different. While all of the characters have different personalities, most were stereotypical of their rank, which was considered very important in that time. However, there is some character development that I liked a lot – the princess, for example, who was so uptight and more than a bit snooty, learned to loosen up and be comfortable with other people. Also, a few of the other faeries (or feyín, to be precise) grew less and less afraid of showing themselves to Kit, even though it was technically against their law to do so. Kit himself learned something – that the heart is wiser than the head – which, personally, I think is pretty cool, especially since the whole book reinforces that fact.

Overall, I really hope that all of you out there who read this go ahead and read the book, and enjoy it, because it’s different from a lot of the other sci-fi or modern fantasy romance books that now populate the shelves, and maybe that’s a good thing.

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