Saturday, 26 September 2015


5 out of 5 stars

17th Century YA

On Amazon UK HERE

I received an ARC of this book from the author, for an honest review.

.... and I'm happy to report that Deborah Swift has done it again!  This is the second part of the Highway Trilogy, and first I must make the point that it's a complete stand alone.  This is important for me, because I have virtually no long term memory when it comes to book/film/TV series plots.  Of course, once I began to read this, the plot of Part I, Shadow on the Highway, came back.

Part I is jolly good, but Part II is even better.  I'd only intended to dip in, take a look at the start, but then I read two thirds of it in one go.  I'm never quite sure what 'YA' actually means; when I was a young adult there were no YA books, we just read... books.  I suppose there are limitations on content and this is written more simply than, for instance, A Divided Inheritance, but I would have thought it could be enjoyed by anyone from the age of twelve to ninety.

Spirit of the Highway is (mostly) about a conflict at Markyate Manor, home of the real life Katherine Fanshawe (see the author's notes at the back of the book), between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians at the end of the English Civil War of the mid 17th Century.  It's written from the point of view of Ralph Chaplin, the young farmer in love with the lady of the manor; we're told from the beginning that he's dead (and, indeed, some of it is told by him as a ghost), but knowing the outcome for the main character does not spoil the story at all - just thought I'd better point that out!

Last week I read a very good novel about the 1980s UK Miners' Strike, Public Battles, Private Wars, so I had a good time nodding sagely to myself and making observations about unchanging human nature, etc.  Deborah Swift really knows her stuff, and I find myself saying the same things about her books every time I review one... but she's just a great story teller, I haven't been let down yet.  The last three and a half chapters of this story, are, in particular, brilliant; I highly recommend this book, and am very much looking forward to Part III.

SHADOW ON THE HIGHWAY is reviewed HERE; at the end you will find links to the two other 17th Century books by Deborah Swift that I've read (only one to go...)

and her WW2 mystery, PAST ENCOUNTERS, written under the name Davina Blake, is reviewed HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment