When bright, brash Jessamine Murphy finds a recruitment poster for the Pony Express, her tomboy heart skips a beat: not only for adventure, but for the chance to track down her wayward father in California. Eager to reunite her fractured family, Jessamine cuts her hair, dons a pair of trousers, and steps into the world as Jesse.
With a bit of trickery, Jesse wins a special assignment—as does Ben Foley, a quiet but determined boy who guards secrets as closely as Jesse does. The two are to transport unusual cargo along an unusual route: the Nightland Express. They ride west together, one excitedly navigating the world as a boy, the other passing as white to escape the monsters from his past.
Ben and Jesse soon realize their assignment is special in more ways than one: their tireless horses cover ground faster than should be possible, and inhuman creatures watch their journey from the darkness. The Nightland Express is more than a mail route—it traces the border between the mortal world and a vibrant, magical land just beyond.
As both realms hover on the precipice of disaster, Jesse and Ben must learn to fully trust one another before a catastrophic rift separates the two worlds—and the two riders—forever.
About the Author
J.M. Lee spent his formative years searching for talking animals and believing he could control the weather. After pursuing nerdy interests in comparative film studies, screenwriting, and Shakespeare, he graduated with a much nerdier degree in linguistics. In addition to writing novels, he enjoys mentoring young writers, teaching his dog new vocabulary words, and updating his snooty coffee blog.
“A must-read for anyone who loves . . . complex and compelling coming-of-age stories, tales set in the Wild West with a tinge of magic, and/or a fast-paced read full of fae and adventure.” —Tor.com
“Lee presents a very nuanced version of the faerie world in The Nightland Express, as well as thoughtful consideration of life in 1860s America. . . . The exciting narrative, fueled by a perceptive and sharply written plot, makes this novel a surefire winner for teens.” —Locus
“An epic journey in so many ways, Nightland Express takes a high-stakes historical premise and douses it with magic, danger, and complex characters, forging their own paths through the blazing West. Enchanting in every way.” —Kristen Simmons, author of Article 5
“Vibrant, lush, and clever . . . The journey across the Old West—and beyond—lets readers ask timeless questions about identity and destiny, and J.M. Lee answers them with kindness, hope, and a touch of magic.” —Amanda Hocking, author of the Trylle series
“Jesse and Ben’s journey as Pony Express riders is thrilling, but their voyages of self—ones that defy maps, road markers, and what society would have them be—make the The Nightland Express truly shine. Make no mistake, there is no fool’s gold to be found here: The Nightland Express is a poignant, gripping novel.” —Lillie Lainoff, author of One For All
“With sparkling prose, a rich historical setting, and characters both enchanted and enchanting, The Nightland Express is a cleverly entertaining take on the Old West. The seamless integration of history and magic is enriched by an elegant, multifaceted commentary on identity and culture.” —Jodie Lynn Zdrok, author of Spectacle and Sensational
“Set your heart to believe in this tension-filled, fast-paced, and ultimately hopeful story.” —H. M. Bouwman, author of A Crack in the Sea
“A magical tale filled with heart and spirit as it explores themes of identity and belonging.” —Aamna Qureshi, author of The Lady or the Lion