When I learned my dear friend, Alison DeLuca, was running a blog tour to celebrate the re-launch of her Crown Phoenix series I just had to sign up. Having read the books in their original form, I was curious to see what changes Alison had made. I obtained the three books and devoured them, noting with glee the improvements she’d made. Here is what I think of them.
The Crown Phoenix is a quantum typewriter whose inner workings make it a magical object capable of moving things and people through time and space. It belonged to the father of the main protagonist, Miriam, and when her father dies the item becomes a highly sought after prize by some unscrupulous people who are only interested in power and money. And so the saga begins . . .
I’d never read a Steampunk novel until Night Watchman Express crossed my path and I wasn’t sure if it would be ‘my thing’, but I’d read a few of the 5-star reviews on Amazon and decided to give it a try.
By the end of the first chapter I was hooked! The characters are larger than life: Miriam, Simon and Neil are loveable and you find yourself really caring about them and the twists and turns in their young lives. Mana is enigmatic yet extremely likeable and the Marchpanes are foul creatures that you take an instant dislike to.
The story is fast-paced; the plot and subplots have so many cliffhangers and hooks, you just have to keep reading. The world-building is superior with superb description – you can so easily picture the places in your mind, and that, to me, is the mark of a very skilled writer.
This book would appeal to adults as well as children. It is entertaining, suspenseful and is so well written, it draws you in. I just HAD to buy the sequel, The Devil’s Kitchen, just to find out what happens next. That again is the mark of a consummate author if they leave you breathlessly needing to buy the next book in the series!
The Devil’s Kitchen is more involved than Night Watchman Express yet the story flows from one book to the next seamlessly. There is more drama, greater subplots and increased intrigue in book 2 of this series and is so well written, I found myself completely immersed in it.
This booker is a little darker than book 1; all the main characters experience trauma of varying degrees and I found myself sympathising with their predicaments and willing them on in their attempts to escape them. They each have great morals, genuinely care about others and still have the backbone to stand up for themselves.
The author demonstrates great skill crafting her characters; they have real depth. The antagonists are manipulative, cruel and remorseless and these traits jump off the page.
The Devil’s Kitchen itself is depicted as a wicked place run by nasty people. Again Ms DeLuca’s superior world-building and descriptive flair creates believable settings that are tangible and interesting.
The gripping story keeps you hooked to the very end and I, for one, eagerly awaited publication of the next book in the series, The Lamplighter’s Special.
The Lamplighter’s Special centres primarily around Ninna and Lizzie and how they become embroiled in the magic surrounding the Crown Phoenix.
This story starts a little slower as the author sets the scene for what ultimately culminates in an unexpected and somewhat explosive ending.
Despite the slower pace at the beginning, Ms DeLuca intricately weaves an amazing tale which connects to the previous two books in unforeseen ways, making it all the more exciting.
Once again, she has given her characters great depth and the reader can truly relate to them. I found myself connecting with Lizzie and Ninna on many levels; some of the more emotional scenes tugged on my heartstrings, especially their concern and worry about their parents and younger sister.
Her fantastic world-building is as believable as it is imaginable, and that to me is one of her great strengths. She describes her settings with such skill that you can picture yourself there whilst still leaving enough to the imagination to make it enchanting.
The fantastical and magical elements are totally unique and have been devised with great ingenuity. What’s more, they have been written with great skill whilst still not revealing all the secrets. She definitely leaves you with unanswered questions, but not to the extent where it spoils the unfolding tale.
The gripping twists in the story are fabulous tie-ins with book 2 of the series and I’m already chomping at the bit for book 4!
Alison DeLuca is a master storyteller who deserves much more recognition than she gets. I would not hesitate to recommend not only this book, but the entire series, which is suitable for kids and adults alike. This is Steampunk adventure at its best! So, the ten-million pound question: would I recommend them? YOU BET YOUR SWEET PATOUCHI I WOULD!! 5-stars across the board!
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.
Click on the titles to go to the relevant Amazon page:
Crown Phoenix: Night Watchman Express
Crown Phoenix: The Devil’s Kitchen
Crown Phoenix: Lamplighter’s Special