Kirsten Reviews: The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
Adventures of Kit Bristol

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.

“Delightful and charming. A swashbuckling adventure in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson


The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp, is as the dust jacket notes ‘the tale of Kit Bristol, his horse Midnight, a mysterious princess, and sundry magical persons besides’ That alone should give readers an idea of what kind of story they are about to read. It’s both written and illustrated by Ben Tripp, often to whimsical effect, and as the first in a trilogy, promises many more adventures to come.

It’s eighteenth-century England, and Christopher “Kit” Bristol is unaware that he is the servant of the infamous highwayman Whistling Jack. When he finds his master severely wounded, Kit garbs himself in the man’s riding cloak in order to seek help, and thus alters the course of his life. He is mistaken for Whistling Jack, is soon on the run from the redcoats, and shortly winds up squarely involved in matters both royal and magical.

Kit is bound by magical law to complete his master’s quest, that being to rescue a fairy princess who is opposed to an arranged marriage to King George lll. But, this is no easy task, as Kit must contend with fairies, attacks from goblings, and a magical map which tells his future, including him being a man waiting to be hung on the gallows.

While the books is very charming, and the illustrations likewise enjoyable, the romance which features largely in the book feels contrived at times, and Kit, although inexperienced and thus not wise to the ways of the world is often called upon to lead, when he should be learning from others instead.

As a YA novel, this will be a fun read for kids who are looking for a little bit of swashbuckling, but for more mature readers, the sexist tropes applied to the female characters, and the fact that the hero is rewarded on virtually no merit may become tiresome. With several more books left in the trilogy, there is plenty of opportunity for the author to rectify some of these issues, while still remaining true to the period and genre.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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