Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse, Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides
by Ben Tripp
read by Steve West
Macmillan Audiobook from Tor, 2014. 10 hours on 9 discs.
I’ve meant to read this since it came out in 2014, and finally got around to it when it came out in audio form. (With thanks to my sister-in-law Laura for encouraging me to do so.) This was just as well, since the narrator is an outstanding reader and has a marvelous British accent, so it was a great listening choice.
As the subtitle tells us, this book tells the story of Kit Bristol, set in the 1700s in England. He’s the only servant of a reclusive aristocrat, and one day his master comes home having been shot. It turns out he was the famed Whistling Jack, and through one thing and another, Kit ends up taking up Whistling Jack’s commitment to help a princess fleeing an arranged marriage.
It turns out the princess is the daughter of the king of Faery, and he is power-hungry and wants to form an alliance with King George III. On top of that, there’s a soulless duchess after Princess Morgana and a vindictive redcoat obsessed with capturing Whistling Jack and seeing him hanged.
Kit and Princess Morgana go through an amazing variety of outlandish adventures. There were times when I couldn’t see how he could possibly survive (even knowing he must, since the story is told in first person).
The only thing wrong with the book? The story doesn’t end at a good place at all. Yes, part of their adventure does come to conclusion, but our two main characters are by no means safe and happy at the end. So that means I’ll be looking eagerly for the sequel.
This book is good for swashbuckling fun with fantasy. The narrator is wonderful, and this would also work for family listening. Kit does get into danger, but it’s young adult reading more because Kit is a young adult than because of any dark subject matter. Ben Tripp is also an illustrator, so having listened to the book it sounds like I missed out on illustrations, though at least I got to enjoy a British accent to make up for it.
Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Teens/accidental_highwayman.html
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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.
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