Culture & Criticism Since 2003
In The Accidental Highwayman, Kit describes himself as “An honest man with dishonest talents.” Most of those talents come from years as a vagabond circus performer, and some are gleaned from the dreaded eighteenth-century highwayman Whistling Jack. Jack comes to a bad end, but before he expires, he gives Kit his horse, his costume, a magical map and a bulldog. And that’s when the story get odd – and quite interesting. On his journey, Kit meets a witch who was Jack’s cohort in crime, a faerie princess who doesn’t want to marry the future George III of England, and various other fay (in addition to his old troupe of circus performers). Tripp’s book, the first of a trilogy for the young-adult market, will remind readers of William Goldman or perhaps even Terry Pratchett. The story itself fits comfortably in the realm of fairy story/sword and sorcery yarn, and adheres to the well-known tropes. What it does add is some solid knowledge of the era, and a modern sense of humor in just the right amount. Tripp has a fine sense of comedic balance in a genre where humor is hard to come by, and it invigorates what might otherwise be rather standard fare. It makes for a fine and pleasant read.
Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.