Review: Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift


downloadAbigail Chaplin has always been unable to find a position as a maidservant like other girls, because she is deaf. So why do the rich Fanshawes of Markyate Manor seem so anxious to employ her? And where exactly does her mistress, Lady Katherine, ride out to at night?

SHADOW ON THE HIGHWAY is based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the highwaywoman, sometimes known as The Wicked Lady. A tale of adventure and budding romance set in the turbulent English Civil War, this is a novel to delight teens and adults alike.

This book is a light read, good for summers on the beach. If you’re going in expecting this to be an adventure about highwaymen, you will be disappointed. The fact that Lady Katherine spends her spare time robbing people is only vaguely dealt with. Most of this is about a group called the Diggers and Abigail and Katherine’s involvement with them. Katherine is a character who is difficult to like. She’s a noblewoman, so her relationship with Abigail is sometimes complicated because she can be viciously arrogant and demanding any time Abigail balks at doing things for her mistress that could get her or her family in trouble. The only saving grace for the character is the fact that she is abysmally treated by her father in law and later by the slimy land manager looking to wrest control of her estates from her. For a strong willed, feisty woman, her predicament is fairly bleak considering there is no one standing up for her.

Abigail is the most interesting addition, her deafness being an important part of the plot. Her disability causes significant complications for her, but it also is something she steadfastly works with. Her frustration with her employer is understandable as Katherine not only involves her in dangerous schemes, but also her brother, much of the time taking no consideration about how these situations could affect her maid and her family. Ultimately this was an enjoyable read, though not at all focused on what they cover and back make you think it is.

3 out of 5


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