Synopsis: England 1651.
England has been engaged in a bitter Civil War for nearly ten years. Ralph Chaplin, a farmer’s son, has fallen for beautiful copper-haired Kate. There is only one problem – he is a Roundhead soldier and she is a Royalist lady.
Tired of bloodshed, Ralph volunteers to fight, sensing that the Battle at Worcester will be a chance to finish the fighting for good. He longs for peace, so he can forge a secure future and find a different, more equal way of life for himself and Kate.
But war is not what he imagined, and soon he has made a deadly enemy; one who will pursue Ralph and those he loves, and wreak vengeance. What’s more, Ralph finds he has just as many enemies at home, as on the battlefield.
Told by Ralph’s ghost, Spirit of the Highway is the stand-alone second part of the Highway Trilogy based on the real life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, highwaywoman and heiress.
My Thoughts: Spirit of the Highway is the sequel to Ms. Swift's exciting Shadow on the Highway (my review can be found here). The second installment takes the reader back to the Fanshawe mansion and shows the reader what has been happening to Ralph, Abigail and Kate since we last saw them. What makes this story unique is that it is told by Ralph's ghost so from the very beginning of the story, you are aware that he will, at some point, meet an untimely death.
The last book focused more on Kate and Abigail while Spirit of the Highway is solely Ralph's story. I definitely found Ralph to be a sympathetic character; he was coming of age during a very tumultuous period in history and the effects of war were hard on him. However, at times, Ralph was really annoying and it was hard to be in his head all the time. He had a quick temper which got him (and Kate and Abigail) into all kinds of trouble and at times it was hard not to be frustrated by him. He really meant well but he didn't always handle tough situations well. It was strange to constantly be expecting him to die; he found himself in several dangerous situations and managed to come out of those unscathed.
Speaking of characters, Ms. Swift introduces a new character, Cutch, in this book. I really liked him! He started off as being really rough around the edges but he came around as the story progressed and was such a good friend to Ralph and his family. He was just so endearing. I really hope that he makes an appearance in the next book in the trilogy. I also hope Abigail and Kate play a larger role in the next book because I really missed seeing things from their point of view.
I really enjoyed view of the English Civil War that the author presented. In Spirit of the Highway, you get to see both sides of the war: life on the battle field and on the home front. I think that was what I enjoyed most about the book. Ms. Swift painted a captivating picture of the horrors and atrocities associated with battle as well as the struggles the civilians had trying to survive in an era of uncertainty. 3 stars.
I received this book from HFBVT in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.
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