Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

Series: The Accidental Highwayman #1 (there isn't actually a title at the moment for the series)
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Young Adult
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: ARC from Publisher

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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 such as Stardust by Neil Gaiman and 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.
You, like me, might scoff and roll your eyes at how this book is being compared to The Princess Bride. It’s understandable to be wary considering what a masterpiece The Princess Bride was, but that said, don’t be. This book isn’t The Princess Bride but it’s definitely written in the fashion of it and that’s why I adored it so much. This book isn’t, at least to me, trying to be The Princess Bride but it instead is trying to invoke the same humor and the same fun adventurous feeling.

Obviously, they aren’t wrong in making that comparison because this book lived up to what you would expect when a book gets compared to a beloved book. It was funny, it had witty comments and it had fantastic characters.

Kit is a great main character and someone you cannot help but root for. He is also a bit of a stereotype but that ties back into the whole fact that this book may or may not be a satirization of a typical fantasy. That said, Kit isn’t really annoying, his fascination with a certain princess can be but that aside, he is a fun hero who is loyal to those he cares about and will fight for what he believes in. What else can you want from a hero? 

Princess Morgana is fun too. She is a typical princess but with all her princessiness, she also manages to grow and become someone who thinks not just of herself and her selfish reasons for doing things but also thinks about the rest of her kingdom and what she could be doing to help them win this war.

What I really loved about this book was the secondary characters. They really did add to the story and made the already fun adventure a lot funnier, I do mean funnier and not funner since the adventure was already fun. You cannot imagine how many times I burst into laughter just by the actions of these bizarre secondary characters. My favorite character was in fact Lily’s uncle. His cluelessness always did me in. He had a way of messing things up but at the same time, if it weren’t for him, they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they had.

The romance was alright. I say alright because even though I know that there is a bit of satire involved in the book, instalove in this case wasn’t done as well as it could have. Remember the romance in The Princess Bride? That was fantastic. The romance here? Not so much. I loved some of the moments involving the two but other mushy ones did not work for me.

The plot on the other hand did. It was so all over the place and so exciting! It was definitely an adventure and there was a circus involved! CIRCUSES ARE AWESOME. There, that’s a selling point. A circus, one the characters formed. Why must I be so vague you ask? ‘tis because I am trying to sell this amazingly fun book and if I were to take away the mystery of what actually happens in the book, it wouldn’t be as intriguing would it?

What really works for the book is its quirkiness. I love the way the narrator inserts random tid bits in the notes as he tries to define the meanings of certain words that are ‘beyond our understanding’ and also manages to contribute to the world building aspect of the novel.  It makes the book original and it also manages to separate it from The Princess Bride  so that while it is written in the fashion of the great novel, it isn’t trying to copy it.

I am incredibly excited to see where Tripp will take us with the sequel and I only hope it’s to better places since there are two more books left in the trilogy.

I’d definitely recommend this book to lovers of The Princess Bride and really anyone who just wants to read a fun fantasy that involves the fae.  If that isn’t reason enough, here is another one, the author is the son of the illustrator for Amelia Bedelia! That worked for me, I hope it'll be enough to convince you to pick up this fabulously fun book.

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