Book Review: Kidnapped

I’ve discovered I love nineteenth century adventure stories.

For the “Back to the Classics Challenge” sponsored by the blog Sarah Reads Too Much, I read The Three Musketeers (see review) in January and now Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.

When published in 1886, Kidnappedwas already historical fiction based in part on a real life struggle between England’s King George (Could he get along with anyone?) and the Scottish Highlanders. It centers on a 1752 event known as the Appin Murder where the king’s agent, Colin Roy Campbell, was murdered by a sniper. Alan Breck Stewart, a key character in Kidnapped, was accused and convicted of this murder in absentia. The event was also featured in Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy.

In Stevenson’s novel, seventeen-year-old David Balfour (fictional) is kidnapped and on his way to the American plantations as a slave (many are unaware of colonial America’s white slavery) when the ship picks up a stranded Alan Stewart. The two become allies against a sinister captain and crew when their own ship hits a reef and sinks. The remainder of the book is a fictionalized version of the intrigue surrounding the Appin Murder and its aftermath.

Like The Three Musketeers, the book is crammed with compelling characters and fast-paced action that kept me glued to the pages. I read it on a weekend car trip and finished it within hours of arriving home. The dialogue was often written in a Scottish Highland dialect that I found fun to read and included many local and likely archaic words from that area. The definition of some could not be discerned from the content, but I only looked up a handful to understand the plotline.

I enjoyed reading Treasure Island several years ago especially since we live near Savannah, Georgia, where some of that story is based. But I must say Kidnapped was even better. It is a great book and a fun read.  

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