Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{October 15, 2012}   {Review} Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca :: Part of the Crown Phoenix Tour and Massive Giveaway

From Goodreads: An underground factory, a terrifying laboratory, and the eerie whistle of the Night Watchman Express…

Miriam has only her guardians’ son for company, and she and Simon dislike each other from the start. But they must find a way to trust each other, or they will end up on the sinister Night Watchman Express.

Full of danger, suspense, betrayal, and a hint of romance, this steampunk adventure is for readers of all ages.


Night Watchman Express turned out to be completely unique and, quite honestly, not what I was expecting at all based on the book blurb given by Goodreads and Amazon.  I find the title itself, actually, to be a bit misleading as the novel only glances over the Night Watchman Express, and I wonder if the book blurb itself could have been meant for not only Night Watchmen Express, but also for The Devil’s Kitchen when it was first devised?  I’m not sure, but the reason I bring it up is because, if you’re anything like me, you will look at Goodreads, or Amazon, or Barnes and Noble to see the blurb (and probably the reviews) prior to reading so you know what the story is going to be about.  And, as Night Watchman also doesn’t actually deal with an underground factory or a terrifying laboratory, I don’t want you to be confused or to stop reading because this book is, in fact, very good!

Set in a steampunk world where character mindsets mirror those of an 18th century populace, DeLuca has created a world in which servants, masters, magic, and betrayal take the forefront.  It’s told in two different sections, which, again, I wasn’t expecting and, truth be told, I found a bit odd, but upon conclusion of the book, I found that I actually really liked the halving of the novel as it was very much needed in order to make sense of it all.

In part one, we meet Miriam, recently orphaned and with new guardians that she absolutely hates.  And rightfully so, as these guardians aren’t there for her protection, but rather to find the Crown Phoenix and make themselves filthy rich.  They are despicable characters, and DeLuca does a phenomenal job making the reader feel Miriam’s pain as they take over her house and life.  In this section, DeLuca tentatively touches upon the Night Watchman Express as it weaves dreams into the sleeping children’s heads, but nothing further really comes from it as part one more so follows Miriam’s life as the Marchpanes, her guardians, search the house for the Crown Phoenix and attempt to weasel her out of house and home.  Of course, on Miriam’s side is the mysterious, genteel Mana, Miriam’s governess, who shows up one day, unannounced, and doesn’t leave.  I really enjoyed getting to know her, but part one ended all too quickly and the reader is left with a healthy dose of questions in terms of who Mana is, what the Crown Phoenix does, what the Marchpanes are actually trying to build/create, etc.  But here, the story branches off and we follow Neil and Mana on their journey across the ocean.

But, let me back track a moment.  Simon and Neil are two wonderful characters that, unlike the Marchpanes, have a heart.  Simon Marchpane attempts to make friends with Miriam in part one, but I found that Neil, Simon’s friend from school, actually becomes much more of a friend to her than Simon ever does.  Perhaps that’s because Simon’s bewitched by beauty, but even so, I found that Neil, out of all the characters, is the most fleshed out—and this is because, while part one lays the groundwork for the story, part two follows Neil on his own adventure to save Mana, and the other characters are forgotten for the time being.  But is that such a bad thing?  I actually enjoyed part two much more than I did part one, and though many questions remain concerning events that transpired in part one, I know they’ll come to light once I begin reading The Devil’s Kitchen, which I believe picks up where part one left off with Miriam and Simon.

In my opinion, Night Watchman Express really begins to pick up pace once part two begins and Neil sets off to save Mana.  We learn much about the mysterious island Mana comes from and I loved getting to experience island life through Neil.  While his stay isn’t just a bed of roses, and there is hard work to be done, and much sleuthing, DeLuca begins to connect events on the island to events we learned about in part one, slowly bringing the story together through this “branch off,” which was indeed needed in order to clue the reader in to all the important aspects within the novel.  Thus, while it may seem unconnected at first, the reader will eventually see just how very connected and intricate part one and two really are.  Overall, I really enjoyed the story (and hope the book blurb is fixed at some point) and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, which I highly recommend to those who love a good mystery and steampunk.  Four stars.

(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.”)

Be sure to check out the exceprt from Night Watchman Express below, along with the book blurn of the other two books in the series, and the awesome giveaway from FIRST RULE PUBLICITY!


An Excerpt from Night Watchman Express:

“Oh, come on,” he said, pushing past the heavy desk and large chair to where she stood. “What have you got there, behind your back? I won’t tell on you; I just want to see what you’ve got.” Miriam twisted away from him, but Simon managed to get an arm around her and grab the paper.

“Ha ha!” he said, releasing her and holding the paper above his head. “Success!” He put a hand out and grabbed her arm.  “No, hold on, don’t leave; I just want to see…”

His voice died out as he stared at the letter. For an instant, he was frozen in disbelief. Then he looked up at her, mouth hanging open. “What on earth?”

“Well, don’t think that I had anything to do with it!” Miriam cried out.

“Yes, but-”

At that moment, they heard Theodosia’s voice at the front door, demanding that a servant come to take her parcels. Simon held the paper out to Miriam, and she thrust it back it him as if it were a live snake. He looked around the study and pushed it under the corner of the blotter. They retreated from the desk, escaped from the room and, as if with mute accord, ran for the back door as quickly as they could.

Outside, Simon took a deep breath and blew it out. He laughed a bit, feeling a certain exultation at avoiding his mother.

Miriam, leaning against the house and feeling her own heart thud in her chest, laughed as well. The next moment she opened her eyes and realized where she was. She was standing there with Simon, alone.

“Um, just realized. I must be off. ’Bye,” she announced hastily.

Simon frowned and reached out a hand to grab her arm again, but she slipped away and disappeared back into the house. He dropped his hand and started after her.

Neil came up behind him and grabbed his collar. “Hey, you abandoned me! Where’ve you been?” he demanded. “Did you find the string we needed?”

“What?” Simon turned to him and blinked.

“What’s the matter with you? You look like you just saw Old Harry himself. Where’s that string, idiot?”

Simon appeared to recall where he was. “String, right. String.” He squared his shoulders and marched away. Neil was left behind, scratching his head.


Synopsis’ for Books Two and Three:

Book Two – Devil’s Kitchen

In The Night Watchman Express, Miriam and Simon were kidnapped and thrown on the strange train… Now in Book Two of The Crown Phoenix series, they arrive at the terrifying destination known as Devil’s Kitchen.

There they will face human experiments in a laboratory known as The Infirmary.

Miriam will be forced to work in an underground factory.

Simon is held in a luxurious prison by jailers who are as beautiful as they are deadly…

And their courage will be tested to the breaking point.


Book Three – The Lamplighter’s Special

Lizzie and her sister are forced to work in a huge manor and on a steamship to support their family.

They are caught up in several mysteries:

The squire’s oldest son cannot leave the attic
An old typewriter seems to move time and space
A passenger hides in a secret room
A beautiful visitor is plotting against them

And Lizzie discovers that she has a strange, new ability.

She and her sister must discover the secrets of The Lamplighter’s Special before their enemy catches up with them.


And now for the GIVEAWAY!!  This amazing two-month long tour and will be featuring a treasure trove of giveaways, including a host wide giveaway of the new Kindle Fire HD 7″, 16 GB loaded with all three books & two beautiful pieces of Steampunk jewelry.

To go to the rafflecopter entry form, click HERE!


About the Author

Alison DeLuca grew up on an organic farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her parents were British, so in the summers she went to stay with her grandparents near Dublin.

There was no stereo or TV there, so Alison, her sister, and her cousins spent the summer inventing stories and plays for each other.  “This gave me the ability to entertain myself with my own imagination in any situation,” she says. “We used to be taken to tea with great-aunts, and we were expected to sit on an uncomfortable couch and not move or say a word.  It was possible to endure it because I was watching my own little stories play out in my mind.”

After graduating from West Chester University, Alison became a teacher of English and Spanish, teaching students from kindergarten up to college level. She loved teaching, and it was with reluctance that she left the classroom to be a fulltime mom when her daughter was born.

While she was teaching and raising her daughter, Alison took every free minute she had to write.  The Night Watchman Express and The Crown Phoenix Series were the result.

She is currently working on the final book in the series, as well as several other projects.

You can find Alison here:   Facebook | Twitter | Google +  | Author Central | Pinterest


Thank you very much for kicking off the tour, it is really an honor to start it at a great site like yours! :)

You are fantastic. Thank you so much for joining First Rule and for kicking off Alison’s awesome tour. It will be great for sure and if I wasn’t one of the FR people I’d be entering like mad for that awesome giveaway with a ton of great goodies that Alison was still adding to just a couple days ago.

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