Saturday, 26 May 2018


The Shadow Cipher ('York' #1) by  Laura Ruby   {Reviewed by STELLA}
It’s New York, but not as you know it. Laura Ruby’s new series 'York' is an intriguing story about three children trying to save a building from developers. The book opens with a scene set in 1855 - a feisty young woman, Ava, is getting the better of a man who has followed her through the streets of New York. He’s after information about her employers, the famous Morningstarr twins. The genius twins were great inventors and magnificent engineers. They created mechanical machines (bugs and caterpillars) that cleaned the streets, underways and overways with sleek silver carriages, solar winged cars, buildings with complex elevators that go every which way, and other mechanical wonders and automata. The action quickly moves to present-day New York where Tess and Theo Biedermann (geeky twins named after the Morningstarrs) live in a Morningstarr building. Determined not to be booted out of their building, they get together with fellow resident and friend Jamie and set about solving a puzzle, The Old York Cipher, a puzzle that people have been trying to solve for over one hundred years. There are clues all over New York; there is even a dedicated society that spends hours collecting information and analysing the clues in a giant and wondrous archive. Yet few have got beyond the first clue. Tess, Theo and Jamie are great characters who bounce off each other and offer different perspectives to solve the cipher. The first of this trilogy, this book is called The Shadow Cipher, which implies that it’s possible that everyone’s been looking in the wrong places, or maybe there’s more than one cipher. This sets up the series nicely and leaves enough hanging to keep you looking forward to the next volumes. Add to this cross-bred and genetically altered ‘pets’ or ‘service animals’ - Tess has a wonder cat-wolf called Nine; a whole host of great side characters - the younger children in the apartment building, Cricket - a imaginative, sly and sharp six year old - and her brother Otto (a ninja, of course); the very tall Mr Stoop and very short Mr. Pinscher, henchmen of the property developer, Slant; and a fantastical New York dotted with the Morningstarrs' technology, and plenty of city history woven into the story line. An enjoyable, page-turning adventure with clues, mysteries, strange consequences and extremely likeable characters. 

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