6 February 2019

SHADOW ON THE HIGHWAY by Deborah Swift

A Discovered Diamond
Shortlisted for Book of the Month



"It wasn't until I started looking through the reviews that I realised this was aimed at the Young Adult market ...it is just as suitable for 'older' readers."

AMAZON UK
Book 1 of a trilogy

Young Adult / Fictional Saga

1650s (English Civil War)
Home Counties

It wasn't until I started looking through the reviews (after I had finished the book and had made my mind up about it) that I even realised it was aimed at the Young Adult market. I still wouldn't put it completely in that category as it is just as suitable for 'older' readers. 


But more about the book. It was a brave and unusual decision to make the narrator a deaf serving girl (one who can lip read and observe people) and for my mind it definitely paid off. Abigail Chaplin (Abi) knows her place; despite the way she is treated and spoken to by 'superior' characters. She also silently carries her own guilt about events that led to her deafness. 


The main character is Katherine Fanshaw and here Ms Swift has delivered a lesson in characterisation. She is - or was - rich but has no control over her own affairs, being ruled by her brutish stepfather, her chinless but no less abhorrent husband and, later on, by the equally but differently evil overseer. Katherine is only two years older than Abi and in many ways far more childish. One moment she is the Lady of the Manor; the next she is one who desires some love and friendship. We feel her misery yet she still takes much of it out on Abi. Thus we are unable to fully make up our minds about her. In other words, she is lost and a virtual prisoner in her own house. Nevertheless she holds a secret and knows how to get her 'kicks'.


The true story of Katherine is vague and possibly fanciful, yet the author has whetted my appetite in this, the first of three volumes. The introduction of Ralph Chaplin is subtle and understated, but I understand he will feature heavily later on.  The author has done her research about conditions during the English Civil War, especially with regards to The Diggers, whom I had never heard of but were very real. 


The ensuing volumes will no doubt reveal more of each of the characters and I, for one, look forward to that ....


© Richard Tearle




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2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your lovely review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I enjoyed it immensely, Deborah and I thought Abi was a great creation - different and powerful.

      Delete

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