Kidnapped – Robert Louis Stevenson



David Balfour, just come to his majority, leaves the Scottish town where his father had been a preacher of little means, and heads to the Shaws manor, uncertain what awaits him. Strangely received by his uncle, things go quickly astray, and it is long before he returns to the manor.


I haven’t read Kidnapped since I was a child, and evidently I mixed it up with other Stevenson books – perhaps Treasure Island – expecting pirates. While there’s a good piece on board a ship, the bulk of the story is set in the Scottish highlands and the long-standing aggravations of the clans there.

While substantially surprised by the story’s turn, I also found – as one would expect from a children’s classic – the prose to be fluid and accessible, the characters engaging. There’s a good bit that doesn’t bear close examination, and our hero is remarkably self-possessed and well-spoken for a young man, but the story moves on smoothly and rapidly. Only at the end does it fall into something of a muddle – evidently Stevenson enjoyed the journey more than the destination.The book ends with the clear indication of a sequel, though until now I’d never heard of the book that follows – Catriona – which promises to be more mercantile and political than this first, better known book. Overall, a quick, pleasant return to the adventures of childhood.

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