A fantastical tale that will especially delight mature elementary and middle grade readers, but also charm any older teens (or adults) who might like a clean adventure fantasy. Definitely a possible read-along but with some mention of romantic attractions.
Former circus trick rider, young Kit Bristol has served as the lone manservant, or only servant really, to a mysterious country gentleman for the last two years, and has gotten used to the quiet simplicity of his new life, even if he still yearns for adventure. In all that time, he’s never once noticed the notorious highwayman Whistling Jack that has everyone in the nearby village upset. When Kit wakes up one night and finds his master lying gravely injured geared up as a highwayman, he knows Whistling Jack’s real identity. As ruffians attempt to break in, Kit dons his master’s clothes to save him and escapes when he finds his master has died, instructed to find a witch and perform one last duty. As he rides his master’s brilliant horse, Midnight, Kit is chased by soldiers and attacked by goblings. After some surprising magic from an unknown source, Kit finds himself safe with the witch and given a quest, to rescue a faerie princess who is being forced to marry King George II. For Kit, who’s only an accidental highwayman, a quest to rescue the princess turns into a lively journey: a dunk in a river, gobling and monster pursuers sent by the princess’s father and the evil Duchess, a soldier captain who’s intent on revenge, a traveling circus complete with senile old man, a monkey and a woman who’s very unlucky in love, two tiny faeries, and one persnickety princess. Though the quest was his master’s, Kit comes to find he cares for the princess and will do anything to help her, even battle a soul-stealing flying Duchess and a tyrannical old father.
I found this a delightful read, if more suited for younger readers. I especially enjoyed the older literary trick of pretending the narrator (Kit) is a real person and has really experienced those things (see much of 18th/17th century literature) and is writing from a historical point-of-view. It blends a little bit of historical fiction and fantasy. Our hero Kit is very likeable and funny but easygoing, while the princess and Lily are moody females, which lends a bit of gender humor to the story though not overdone. Possibly the hardest to understand is the dimensions of Faerie and this world, which contains odd creatures and odd rules that Kit does not bother to describe or make full sense of, lending to his own credibility as our “real” author.
Will be a series, but no forthcoming dates as of yet.