Goodreads: The Shadow Cipher
Series: York #1
In The Shadow Cipher, author Laura Ruby takes readers to an alternate New York City, where genius inventors in a previous century created machines that keep the city running smoothly and cleanly. It’s a recognizable New York, on the whole, with a Battery Park, a Liberty Statue, Alexander Hamilton’s grave, and number of other landmarks readers familiar with New York will be able to recognize. It just has a touch of steampunk “magic” keeping it altogether, such as caterpillar machines that keep the subways clean, and it is very cool.
Protagonists Tess and Theo and their new friend Jaime would probably not call themselves cool. Theo is known mostly for his wildly curly hair, and none of the kids are really that popular at school. However, they know that their city and their apartment building are incredibly special, and readers will root for them and their tenacity as they race against the clock to save their home and some of the brilliant history of York. All they have to do is…solve a cipher no one has solved for over one hundred years.
This is not a mystery, alas, that readers have much opportunity to solve along with the characters, but there are a few clues the reader can get in on, as well as a couple codes readers might have some idea how to break. I’m always wishing for these types of stories to be a bit more interactive than they are, but even as it is The Shadow Cipher is a fun read and one wild adventure to follow as the children visit various parts of their beloved city.
The story ends on a pretty enormous cliffhanger, which is annoying for those of us readers who dislike feeling as if they got half a story instead of a full one in a nice book-sized package. However, it does its job, and I’m intrigued enough to want to know where this story is going to go in the second installment.