The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp | Book ReviewThe Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
Published by Macmillan on 2014-10-14
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

The Accidental Highwayman is the first swashbuckling adventure for young adults by talented author and illustrator, Ben Tripp. This thrilling tale of dark magic and true love is the perfect story for fans of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.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, goblin 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.“Delightful and charming. A swashbuckling adventure in the vein of Robert Louis Stevenson.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson

In theory, I should have loved The Accidental Highwayman: Being The Tale Of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, A Mysterious Princess And Sundry Magical Persons Besides by Ben Tripp. There’s a lot to recommend it — interesting cast of characters, lots of adventures, but it just did not gel into perfection for me. There’s a comparison to The Princess Bride which like Beyonce is flawless and a blurb from Brandon Sanderson, who is one of my favorites. In actual fact, parts of this book were like pulling teeth as far as pacing. I mean, I got through it and finished it, but most of this weekend I opted to watch Criminal Minds on Netflix instead of read this book — that’s how much it was not engaging me.

The Accidental Highwayman opens up with Kit Bristol, a servant, obtaining some items for his boss, Master Rattle. Kit returns home and eventually finds Master Rattle on his deathbed. Part of his last will and testament include Kit dropping off his dog, Demon to a woman named Magda as well as a map of sorts made up of indecipherable drawings. So, Kit brings Demon to Magda, riding a black horse named Midnight the whole way. There, Kit finds that Magda is actually a witch and that he has been chosen to complete Master Rattle’s task which is to prevent the Faerie Princess from getting married by abducting her from her carriage. Thus, Kit accidentally becomes a highwayman. Along the way, with a motley crew haphazardly assembled, Kit, the faerie princess named Morganna and other fey and two humans find themselves on the run from a military captain who is obsessed with catching highwaymen and from the faerie king, Morganna’s dad.

Kit is a nice guy. He has good intentions and will do what it takes to accomplish his mission from Magda. However, he is kind of dense as you will see when you read this book. However, if you are the kind of reader who likes their characters earnest, I think you will like Kit. He is very determined to be sure. I have to say that he’s a bit more interesting in the beginning when he is a servant and bent on protecting his master’s honor and following the straight and narrow. At this point, even though I just finished the book I am blanking on how to describe Kit because he kind of blends in with many other fantasy main characters. I mean, he’s human, he’s brave, he’s got a talent for riding horses. Aside from that, I don’t have much to say.

The world building in The Accidental Highwayman is quite neat. The book is set in 18th century England. There’s all manner of magical characters – fairies, pixies, griffins, witches and more. I quite enjoyed reading about the journey of Kit and Morganna as well as the additional characters toward free lands. Kit, trying to escape the noose and Morganna, trying to escape her marriage. One is aiming for France, the other for Ireland. I loved the use of a traveling caravan show as well. Unfortunately, this was not enough to make me love the book.

Another thing that’s relatively positive about The Accidental Highwayman is the interior artwork. There’s all sorts of drawings in the margins that lend to the story. Beyond this, there are full page pictures which I thought were gorgeous. I thought they added depth to the work, given that I really enjoyed looking at the pictures.

Alas, Ben Tripp’s young adult debut was merely an okay reading experience for me and was not one of those could not set it down types of books. Altogether, it was too easy to set this book down. I can’t quite put my finger on why this book seemed to drag so much. Perhaps because I was expecting it to be on the level of William Golding when it comes to humor and the book just did not deliver that.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. With such great comparisons it’s sad that the book doesn’t quite work!

  2. It’s too bad you didn’t feel engaged. Just reading the synopsis gave me goosebumps because I love Stardust and Princess Bride, so I’ll try to go in with low expectations to this.

    Great review!

  3. The reason I was so drawn to The Accidental Highwayman was because of that cover! And the story sounded like a pretty solid fantasy read. Sorry to hear that it didn’t quite live up to your expectations.