Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cromwell's War, A Deaf Maidservant, A Confused Highwaywoman Make for an Exciting Historical Tale in Shadow on the Highway

Shadow on the Highway (The Highway Trilogy, #1)Nobody except a deaf person knows how it feels to lie in the inky blackness, unable to know what has woken you, unable to hear, unable to see. The way the dark closes in as if you're locked in a box, muffled from the rest of the world. The fear that some danger might be behind you, and you'd never know until it was too late.

Deborah Swift has done a superb job capturing the life of a deaf person, the everyday trials, the little discomforts, such as darkness. Darkness robs us of everything. We are so dependent upon on our eyes. I'm amazed that she understood this. She even captured the difficulty of lip reading, how we must get used to the way a person's mouth moves before we can read their lips well. Ms. Swift portrayed this frustration very well in Abi's dealing with the cook, her new "boss" of sorts.

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. I bought this on Amazon.

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