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Shadow on the Highway (Highway Trilogy)…
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Shadow on the Highway (Highway Trilogy) (Volume 1)

by Deborah Swift

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Abi Chaplin is deaf but can read lips. Shes been sent to work as a maid for Katherine Fanshawe. Set in the time of Cromwell and the civil war and also highwaymen.

Although this book is meant for the young adult market I drawn to it because of Katherine Fanshawe. Shes gone down in history as a highyway robber and has been portrayed in films such as The Wicked Lady. I have an interest in highway men so was looking forward to this book.

I was disappointed with this book for two reasons. The first being is that the author didnt seem to explore enough of the theme of the highway men or woman as the case maybe. I was expecting more of Katherine s exploits on the road which in the book didnt happen. Only briefly did Katherine go out as a highway robber.

My second niggle is thatvi couldn't see the point of makibg Abi deaf. Her chatty narrative was pleasant enough and a lot of times I had forgotten that she was deaf, and didnt get the feel of a deaf girl.

The story was ok but not what I was expecting. I can see where it would appeal to the YA market. For me it just didnt happen.

Stand and deliver it wasn't. ( )
  tina1969 | Mar 16, 2016 |
From the blurb, I thought I would be reading about a female bandit, instead the story focussed on a deaf maid who could communicate exceptionally well which I found rather unbelievable. At times the plot became bogged down with the political upheaval, but, overall, a light, easy read for younger YA. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Abigail Chaplin was deafened at the age of nine by the measles. Now, at fourteen Abigail must make her own way in the world. She has found a placement at Markyate Manor as maid to the young Lady Katherine Fanshawe. Abi can read lips and speak clearly enough, but she still feels disadvantaged, especially around the harsh master, Mr. Grice. Abi and Katherine form a bond. Katherine has talked Abi into letting her dress up in maid's clothing and accompany Abi to her brother Ralph's Digger meetings. Katherine and Ralph begin to fall for one another and tension's rise as Mr. Grice leads the Fanshawe household in one direction for the War and Ralph leads the Digger community in the other. Also, as Mr. Grice begins to sell items off in the Fanshawe household, some of the items begin to reappear after Abi notices that Lady Katherine disappears in the middle of the night.


Set during the turbulent English Civil War, the legend of the 'Wicked Lady' or the 'Highwaywoman' Katherine Ferrers is brought to light. I didn't know a lot about this time period and I knew nothing of the legends of the HIghwaywoman. I was glad to learn that Katherine Fanshawe and Ralph Chaplin were both real people that the legend bloomed from. Told through the eyes of Ralph's fictional sister, Abigail, a different picture was painted of the young woman who would be later known as the 'Wicked Lady.' Abigail's character was wonderful, given her disability she was still a strong character, although not without faults. I could feel her pain when she misunderstood directions. Through Abi, Lady Katherine is not always seen as the best or brightest person, but as their relationship grows, Katherine's true spirit shows. Towards the end, the action picks up and a lot of events happen. It is very exciting, but I felt like some continuity details were missing in regards to bigger events, such as how the events at Markyate fit in the Civil War? and what ended up happening to the Diggers? As the first book in the trilogy, these questions might be answered later.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Jan 25, 2015 |
I decided to read this book despite it being aimed at young adults because having read two of Ms Swift’s other works I felt confident that I wouldn’t be disappointed with this one. And I was right.

Set in 1651, during the English civil war, a deaf 15-year-old girl – Abi – is forced to take a job working for Lady Katherine Fanshawe, who’s only two years her senior.

Katherine isn’t all that she seems to be. So much so that she falls in love with Abi’s older brother, following her decision to disguise herself as a serving girl, allowing her an entrance into town without being recognised.

Despite her privileged position in society, Katherine has little joy in her life. This and her diverse personality make her as interesting a character as Abi, who – having not become deaf until aged nine – can lip read.

Abi narrates the tale, which made me wonder how effective this would be when I started the book, thinking it may hinder the story’s flow in some way, but soon discovered it to be a very effective narrative method indeed. This is also a well-plotted story, fast paced, with many engaging scenes and quality dialogue.

Many writers of historical novels focus only on researching history and seem never to have studied the art of fiction or ever attended a creative writing class.

Deborah Swift, on the other hand, shows equal respect to both quality English style and to historical research. She deserves much more recognition for her literary talents.

I look forward to the next book in this trilogy. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Nov 9, 2014 |
This intriguing YA historical novel has Swift's usual deft use of historical background and unusual but strongly defined characters. (My reviews for Swift's The Gilded Lily and A Divided Inheritance.) Set in the 17th century in the midst of the English Civil War, the novel is the first in a trilogy, each book following one of the three leads.

Abigail "Abi" Chaplin is a cheap maid after she lost her hearing to childhood illness, and she's sent to Markyate Manor to work as a maid. Shocked to find the grand estate virtually abandoned save for a cranky cook and a vile overseer, she's even more shocked to find her mistress, Lady Katherine Fanshawe, is a girl her same age.

While cold and imperious at first, Abi and Katherine become unlikely allies when Katherine decides to pass herself off as "Kate", another maid. To Abi's horror, her brother Ralph is taken with Kate, and invites them to join in his Digger community -- a commune-like movement of tenants and farmers who organize to live on public land rather than as paid tenants for the local manors.

Against this social drama -- one that was totally new to me, and deeply fascinating! -- is the backdrop of war, and in particular, the way it impacted the local folks as the armies mustered and marched through town. Katherine's fortune and inheritance is stolen from her by her milquetoast husband and her brutal father-in-law, and she has to protect herself as best as she can.

At 200 pages, this is a quick read, but one that is rich with characterization and wonderful historical details. Although I wasn't a fan of Katherine -- I couldn't fathom why Abi liked her or what Ralph found appealing about her other than her beauty -- I appreciated the complicated relationship she and Abi had (and how it changed as time went on), and the rich mix of real life details with fictional ones. I also loved that there was a deaf main character; it's rare to see in fiction, especially historical fiction, and made for an even more interesting story.

As with Swift's other novels, there's a delightfully detailed historical note that more than satisfies. This is the first in a trilogy, but has a solid conclusion that doesn't require one to pick up the other two -- but as the following novels follow Katherine and Ralph from their viewpoints, I can't help but want to get them, despite my exhaustion with trilogies.

Fans of English historical fiction, especially the Civil War era, will like this book. Although there's some romantic elements, this is really a novel about friendship, class, and identity (as well as forgiveness and patience). ( )
  unabridgedchick | Sep 9, 2014 |
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