by Alison DeLuca
Thank you to First Rule for allowing me to participate on the tour! We are back with Simon and Miriam and the action begins just about where The Night Watchman Express ends. We have a little overlap just to figure out what happened to Simon and Miriam while Neil was running around Lampala trying to save Mana, Miriam’s governess.
Holy crap this wraps up the main issues for the kids so well and it was so satisfying! I literally could not put it down there was so much that had to happen, everyone was in different horrible situations and it all came together amidst the background of steam and dark and dank and evil. The steampunk is the background, the cogs running without finger covers…machines endlessly running and pumping out steam and drugs. There are creepy, disgusting characters at every turn. Some are tall and nasty looking and acting, others are gorgeous and charming and utterly lethal.
This book starts out with the kids on the train and they stop at the Devil’s Kitchen. Ewwww, this is the creepiest place, with fingernail gouges in the wood of the door leading inside. It is tense and scary and you just need to keep reading! Simon has a beautiful hell he endures. Trapped, and being psychologically manipulated through a type of torture, no whips and chains but lack of sleep, drugs and lack of control. Miriam is also trapped, but she is doing hard labor with the prisoners in Devil’s Kitchen. She has to figure out how to survive on her own, without friends or family, among hostile people scrabbling against their neighbor. Neil is helping in the search for his friends, and he takes a job at Pearson’s (the company the Marchpane’s are now running) to try to get a clue as to what the new owners are up to and where Simon and Miriam might be kept.
The characters were well drawn. The situations were horrible, yet not freakishly so. Even though there is a lack of concern for nefarious deeds, it was during a time of shifting social classes and industrial revolution and the bad guys seemed to pick on the loners, prisoners and those without family.
The narrative would switch between the children, so you got an equal and in-depth view of what they were going through along with their ingenuity and strength of character during exceedingly difficult times.
The bad guys were bad. There is no doubt about that. Simon’s parents, the Marchpane’s are somewhat misguided and greedy, but the Cantwell’s, Barbara and Valient are nasty pieces of work that look wonderful but are rotten inside. I think I mentioned Barbara reminded me of Mrs. Coulter from The Golden Compass in the last review. Vile woman.
So there are a few loose pieces that need to be tidied in the final book of the trilogy and I am looking forward to seeing what DeLuca has in store. I am not sure if the kids will be a part of the adventure or not. It could go any which way. I gave the first book 3.5 stars on its own, but combined with this second book I give it 4.5 stars. I just loved it. So much fun, strong characters that are coming of age and learning who and what they are when it isn’t easy to do so. Well done!
Check out my review of the first book of the trilogy The Night Watchman Express here. I will be reviewing the third book of the trilogy, the Lamplighter’s Special on the 22nd.
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.”