Sunday, 15 February 2015


4.5 out of 5 stars

17th Century history, YA

On Amazon UK HERE

I didn't realise when I bought this that it was a YA novel, as the blurb doesn't say so, but I thought I'd read it anyway as I've read another of Deborah Swift's books and thought it excellent.  I've just spent a very happy afternoon reading the second half of this, it was great!

Set right in the middle of the English Civil War, Shadow on the Highway is about deaf lady's maid Abigail Chaplin, who is taken into service by Lady Katherine Fanshawe, a girl of around her own age.  However, Katherine is far from in control at Markyate Manor, as Abi is to find out.

This is one of those 'half fact, half fiction' stories that I love; I didn't realise exactly how much was fact until I read the historical notes at the end of the book (I think it's probably better to read them afterwards, when they mean more).  I love Ms Swift's work; the research is so complete but the details are never laboured; she assimilates her knowledge of the times so smoothly, so that a picture of the time is painted almost immediately.  Her books are so very readable.  One thing I very much appreciated about this novel was the way she put questions in the reader's mind about certain characters' backgrounds early on, but does not answer them until much later.

I became more aware of this being a YA novel in the last quarter, though before that I think it could have been meant for any age.  I'm not really into YA as a rule, but I think I'll still have to get the next one in the series - and what a marvellous way to learn about history for teenagers; this is far more interesting than any history lesson I sat through.  It brings the time to life, which is what learning history should be about, isn't it? 

THE GILDED LILY by Deborah Swift reviewed HERE

A DIVIDED INHERITANCE by Deborah Swift reviewed HERE



  1. I used to read a great many YA books when I was buying books for a school library but I've read very few recently. This sounds like a book to entice me back to YA.

    1. It's really good and so well presented; well, it's trad pubbed so it should be! I've got to know the author on Twitter, very charming lady @swiftstory. I don't have so much interest in reading YA myself but it's good that it exists as a way of getting youngsters reading rather than bashing away on their phones, eh!