I have wanted to read a steam-punk book for ages and I’ve also wanted to participate in a book tour for ages so when the opportunity came up to do both I jumped at it! And I am so glad I did. Here’s the summary:
Miriam Pearson’s father has died. Her guardians, The Marchpanes, take over her house and her father’s company. The strong-willed girl instantly clashes with their son, Simon. The Marchpanes hire a governess, Mana, to take care of her. Mana is black, and has magic powers. She and Miriam eventually become friends. With Simon and Neil, his friend, they uncover a plot by the sinister Barbara Cantwell to use Miriam’s father’s company for evil means. Barbara is very beautiful, and at first, Simon is very attracted to her.
Once Barbara realizes that Miriam and Mana are on to her scheme, she forces the guardians to fire the governess. Mana is hustled out of the house by the Marchpanes, but Miriam, Neil and Simon follow her to the Night Watchman Express. However, Miriam and Simon are captured and put on the Night Watchman, bound for a sinister destination. Mana is loaded onto a boat headed to Big Star Island.
Neil manages to steal a boat and follow Mana’s captors to the island. A native girl, Riki, rescues him and brings him to her house. She is spoiled and her mother has no control over her, but Neil manages to become her friend. Her father forces him to stay with the family so Neil can be Riki’s companion and manage her wild behavior.
Neil learns about Atol, the king of the island, who seized power after the last monarch was killed. Atol is plotting with Barbara Cantwell to force the islands to produce drugs instead of bolemor wood, and he is also shipping his people out for use in human experiments. Neil discovers that Mana is the rightful queen of the island, and is being held by Atol. Neil and Riki manage to rescue Mana, and they head back to the mainland to look for Simon and Miriam.
I really enjoyed The Night Watchman Express. I loved the characters, that idealized feeling of warmth for the past when girls had governesses and big houses had cooks and maids. It was all very Downton Abbey!
I have to say though, I adored the characters! Each of them reminded me of other favorite characters, yet seemed totally original at the same time. Miriam, the uncivilized wild child with a talent for writing and a hatred for her guardians reminded me slightly of Lyra from Phillip Pullmans epic His Dark Materials. Mana, the mysterious governess and lady with the patience of a saint reminded me of Mary Poppins. Neil the spectacle wearing slightly geeky boy and Simon, the posh boy with a heart were also great characters and I think the trio of Miriam, Simon and Neil worked really well together. I also loved the idea of Simon’s parents being the villains and the mysterious Marchpane’s and the Cantwell Siblings gave me the chills for some reason and yet I yearned for more, I will be reading the second book soon as to find some answers!
I think that the one word I could use to describe this book would be mysterious! It’s really a tale of two halls. The first half deals with the arrival of Simon, Neil and Simon’s parents and Mana and how this effects Miriam, a girl who’s just lost her father and doesn’t seem that bothered about it. This is where the mystery of “the company” begins and all three kids are drawn into it. Mana seems to know more then she’s letting on too and so the mystery begins! The second part of the novel is completely different from the first. At first I was a little put off by this, but Neil’s and his new friend’s adventures are equally enthralling and mysterious. The book doesn’t have a conclusion of such, but neatly leads on to book two.
The only very slight issue I had with the book was the time period and setting, I didn’t know whether it was set in England, America or someone else and I didn’t know the exact time period it was set in (and for a history geek this is important!). However this may be because I was too idiotic to notice as I had to spread out my reading because of my law degree.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to fans of mystery and quirky characters. I cannot wait to read the second book in the series and find out more.
Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books. She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.
Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.
Follow Alison on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/AlisonDeLuca
Follow her blog at: http://alisondeluca.blogspot.co.uk/
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from First Rule Publicity from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”