In eighteenth century Christopher “Kit” Bristol thinks he has finally found legitimate and respectable work as a gentleman’s gentleman. Yes, he sometimes misses his dramatic life working in a traveling show. Of course riding an old mare into town for errands can’t compare to riding a fine horse in a ring for trick spectacles. But Kit has left that life behind. He is a servant now with stable work in a lovely manor. It matters little that the manor is largely on the brink of falling apart.
Unfortunately, Kit’s visions of grandeur and legitimacy are rudely shattered one night when he learns that his master’s odd habits are hiding a secret. Kit has unknowingly been working for Whistling Jack–a notorious highwayman who is wanted by both the authorities and other, far more dangerous, foes.
In a fit of loyalty, Kit dons his master’s clothes hoping to buy Whistling Jack precious time after the highwayman is gravely injured. The deed is futile. It also drags Kit into the middle of his master’s unfinished quest–a fantastical mission that Kit is ill-prepared to complete.
Tasked with stopping the marriage of King George III to a fairy princess named Morgana, Kit will have to plumb the depths of his ingenuity and search for unlikely allies if he hopes to survive let alone succeed in The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides (2014) by Ben Tripp.
The Accidental Highwayman is Tripp’s first novel for young adults. It also includes delightful illustrations by the author.
This book is an enjoyable fantasy romp complete with fairies, goblings (not to be confused with goblins!) and a fair bit of whimsy. Tripp does an excellent job of combing a historical fiction sensibility with a fantasy story to create a new type of fairytale with an 18th century background. Tripp’s illustrations also add to the playful quality of the story.
Although sometimes predictable, The Accidental Highwayman is a solid fantasy adventure that will appeal to readers looking for action as much as they are humor or romance. This rollicking story is but the first in an anticipated series that promises numerous adventures for both Kit and Morgana.
Thanks to Esther Bochner at MacMillan, you can also check out a clip from the audiobook of The Accidental Highwayman, narrated by Steve West: https://soundcloud.com/macaudio-2/the-accidental-highwayman-by-ben-tripp-audiobook-excerpt
Possible Pairings: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherine Valente, A Well-Timed Enchantment by Vivian Vande Velde, Candide by Voltaire, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede