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Shadow on the Highway (Highway Trilogy) Paperback – March 1, 2017
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I saw some reviewers complain that they had doubts a deaf girl could possibly read lips so well, but as a deaf person, I must brag that I can read lips so well or fake it when necessary that a lot of times people do not even know I'm deaf. So there. LOL. However, I will say that reading lips of side profiles is a bit beyond me, and I am frankly amazed that the heroine was able to do that. But then, we do what we must to survive.
The 411: Abi is a deaf 15-year-old in Cromwell's England. (The war between Parliament and the Royalists is ongoing.) She's leaving home for the first time to work in the manor under Lady Katherine. But when she arrives at the manor, the novel takes a Gothic feel. There's much treachery afoot.
Lady Katherine lives in fear of her husband and step-father and overseer. They beat her, take her money, control everything. There's the constant switching of sides in the war, looting, lies, secreting of correspondence. An evil man who doesn't belong there... There's just an incredible amount of bad things going on. And oh, did I mention there's a highway robber who holds people at gunpoint whilst never saying a word?
And in the middle of all this, Abi is struggling to keep secrets from everyone and finds herself torn constantly, between Kate and the overseer, between Kate and her brother, between brother and father, between Diggers and Royalists... The Diggers. I had never heard of them before. There is nothing I love more than picking up a book and finding myself not only entertained, but educated. Thank you, Ms. Swift. I learned something new.
To get to the point, I really enjoyed this story and cannot wait to see what happens to Abi next. Only one thing prevented me from absolutely loving aka five-biking it. Lady Katherine really got on my last nerve. She confused me and I wanted to slap Abi at times for staying by this woman's side. She claimed she wanted to be a Digger, yet at her manor she bossed Abi around mercilessly and lorded her title over her. She didn't even dress herself. She's able to hold up people at gunpoint and take their jewels but can't stand up to a crippled man. And after all she does, after all the trouble she causes Abi and her brother, why in the heck does Abi stick around without pay? I can excuse Abi; she's only 15, but Lady Katherine just really got under my skin. Sometimes the things she says make no sense either. "Thomas never offers to accompany me. And partly I am glad, for I dislike my step-father." Thomas is her husband; her step-father is Simon. What does disliking Simon have to do whether or not she walks with Thomas? Though in her defense, in her eyes, they were quite possibly one and the same. They both mistreated her.
I have a feeling book two will be different though and I honestly can't wait.
The author balanced the characters nicely, with two budding romances, political idealism and the reality of war, a vicious villain, and the looming evil of Sir Simon--though after a short and sadistic appearance, he took off for parts unknown. I suppose he'll reappear in the sequels. Because readers need to see that he's eventually punished!
The only thing I disliked about this book was NOT the author's fault: I wanted to refer to Author's Notes at the back while holding my place, but it's too hard to navigate on Kindle or the free Kindle app (I have both), so I just kept reading until I finished the narrative.
'Shadow on the Highway' was a pleasant read, and I read it in about 10-12 hours over several days.
The main character in the story is sent to work as a house maid to a woman who's family supports the King over the rebels who fought under Cromwell. She is deaf, and it was really interesting to read a story where the main character had that issue, and how she handled it. The look in to the life of a hard working maid was very eye opening, and I thought the author did an excellent job of showing this.
I would have liked to have seen more of a relationship between the main character and the man she was interested in, so I would not classify this book as a "romance" novel, but rather an interesting historical/adventure story. There is another book in this series and I'm curious to see where the story continues.
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