by Alison DeLuca
Book Tour with First Rule Publicity
This is the beginning of a YA trilogy containing some steampunk elements. I will be reviewing the other two books later this month.
The heroes of this book are three children, the recently orphaned Miriam, Simon and Neil. Miriam’s father was the head of a company that had created a wonderful device that his partner, who is now Miriam’s guardian, is desperately searching for. He and his wife, the witchy Mrs. Marchpane have taken over her house and treat Miriam very poorly. Luckily, Miriam’s governess Manapalata Postulate has some sort of power over the Marchpane’s and takes the wild Miriam in hand Her amazingly wonderful character helps Miriam calm herself enough to figure out what is going on. Mana ia a little bit Mary Poppins in a no nonsense, non-singing type way. Simon is the Marchpane’s son, and Simon’s friend Neil is staying with them for the summer. Eventually the kids befriend each other against the Marchpane’s wishes.
It is creepy and the characters and mystery are developed and deepen while we read about Miriam and her situation. The Marchpane adults are vile looking and acting people who then bring in a new partner, a brother and sister team who are lovely to look at, but not so beautiful on the inside. They reminded me a little bit of Mrs. Coulter from The Golden Compass, gorgeous but dangerous! But, we don’t find out much about them. We are being led down the rabbit hole with little breadcrumbs (first of a trilogy!).
The second half of the book Miriam and Simon are trapped on the Night Watchman Express train and Neil is on Lampala island trying to save Miriam’s governess, Mana who has been captured. The mystery deepens while we follow Neil and his new friend Riki try to find Mana. But it feels like you are straying further from the mystery, because the narrative follows Neil nearly exclusively in a happy island setting, or is it as happy as it looks? The setting and tone are almost completely different from the first half.
But you get hints. You see certain characters and know who they are, even if the kids are unsure “where they heard that voice before” you know the bad guys are somehow involved. But you don’t know what it is they are doing…you have to follow the clues to see where they lead. And even though the story derails a little (or so you think) it is so readable and enjoyable I felt like I read 2 books in one.
Lampala has intrigue and a mystery to solve along with some bad guys, all under the beautiful veneer of a gorgeous tropical island. You get hints of the bad deeds and terrible things happening here and elsewhere and you hope Neil and Riki can unravel part of the mystery and begin shedding light to the diabolical doings of the Marchpane’s and their new partners. The action is slow, then not, then slow again, but I found it enjoyable, just don’t expect fire bombs and many answers. Not many come your way this book.
Underneath the seemingly innocent adventures of these children there are some creepy goings on. I am excited to continue this adventure and hope we get to see Miriam and Simon’s story aboard the Night Watchman in the next installment, The Devil’s Kitchen. So far, the steampunk elements are only hinted at. Honestly, so far this is more of a victorian setting without fantastical devices. So I am looking forward to seeing what Miriam’s father invented, what it can do and how they expose the diabolical Marchpane’s! 3.5 stars.
About the Author: 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.
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.”