Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful for Great Books! And a review of a New Steampunk series

Alison Deluca is a fellow YA and tween author, who’s written an excellent steampunk series called The Crown Phoenix.

My review of Book One, The Night Watchman Express:
Miriam’s comfortable world is thrown into chaos when her father dies and his so-called business partners, Virgil and Theodosia Marchpane move in take over the mansion. They’ve brought along their spoiled son, Simon, and his friend of more modest means, Neil. Upon the horrid realization that Theodosia is intent on moving Miriam up to the attic and installing Simon in her room, Miriam is not going down without a fight. She throws things, she curses, and is relegated to her room for days with only bread and water.

Book Two

Book Three
Mysterious, steampunky elements appear: twelve silver circles set in the stones near the shore, a seemingly magical night train that inspires strange dreams, and Miriam’s secret possession: her old-fashioned Crown Phoenix manual typewriter, which takes on a larger aura. Miriam overhears Virgil and Theodosia’s whispered business dealings. She reads their private papers and learns of shocking details. The Marchpanes hate her snoopy ways and hire a governess to keep Miriam in line.

Enter Manalapata Postulate, a character every bit as trippy as her name suggests. As Miriam’s new governess, she has a hypnotic hold on everyone—for instance, the very racist Theodosia cannot recall saying yes to hiring Miss Postulate, who is the color of dark chocolate, yet Theodosia’s signature’s on the contract!

At first Miriam rails against her new governess, but soon Miss Postulate, or Mana, not only turns Miriam into a proper lady, she has also, to Theodosia’s horror, charmed young Simon and Neil. When Miriam asks Mana why she’s being so nice, we wonder too! Everyone has a nefarious motivation that is big fun trying to figure out. Danger lurks, and finally, the kids learn that Mana has been taken. Upon trying to rescue her, Simon and Miriam are whisked away on none other than the Night Train that inspires their fearful dreams.

Part two brings us to the island of Lampala where Miss Postulate grew up. She’s been kidnapped and Neil is determined to search for her. It's here that DeLuca crafts her most original setting and language, a testament to her vivid imagination and prowess as a storyteller. Neil is charged with watching a native girl, even more impossible than Miriam ever was, and the earlier plot is echoed in his own creative ways of bringing Riki around. The more serious task is to rescue Mana, who they find hanging in a cage off the edge of a cliff! I admire DeLuca’s quirky sense of adventure, and expertise at weaving together all of the mystifying threads without dropping any. Her prose is gorgeous. Tweens and middle-graders will love this series, as well as teens and even adults.

Where to find Alison and The Crown Phoenix series:
The series on Amazon
At B&N for Nook: Night Watchman Express, The Devil's Kitchen, Lamplighter's Special
Facebook author pageTwitterPinterest, Google+
Book Trailer

What book are you thankful for this November?


  1. Thanks for the heads up about the new series. It sounds like a delightful tale with really quirky characters -- marvelous! :-)

  2. Sounds like an interesting series. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm most thankful for the two books by very different authors that made me want to write. One was '1984' by George Orwell and the other was 'The Lord of the Rings' by J R R Tolkien.

  4. These books sound amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your views with us, Catherine.

  5. Haven't read much steampunk. These make me want to change my mind.

  6. Thanks so much for featuring my books, Catherine! That's a huge complement.

  7. Very nice review. The book sounds interesting.

    I'm thankful for each book I read that introduces me to new characters and worlds and that I enjoy.

  8. Cat, I hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving. Tennessee jam bundt cake sounds amazing, I'm so glad it turned out well!

  9. Interesting story premises, and what gorgeous covers!! I'm just thankful that books exist, period.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  10. Love the covers. I wish steampunk had been around when I was in high school! I am currently very thankful for the books of James Baldwin. !!

  11. I've never gotten into Steampunk, but it looks as if I must give it a try. Thanks Catherine. I needed a push.

  12. I've never been into heavy duty steampunk, but these are steampunk lite in a good way. The author writes a darn good story and doesn't hit you over the head with the steampunk factor. If I explain it more than that I'd have to provide spoilers...

  13. The covers look amazing! As for thankfulness & books, I'll go back to the first book I remember loving with all my heart, Ribsy by Beverly Cleary.