Wednesday, May 10, 2017

All About Middle Grade Review [Blog Tour]: York: The Shadow Cipher

Two reviews in one week, my y'all must be lucky! I am so very excited to one of the stops on the blog tour for Laura Ruby's newest release York: The Shadow Cipher (which was a great read). Be sure to keep reading to see why I found it to be such an interesting read.

The Shadow Cipher (York, 1) by Laura Ruby, May 16, 2017. 448 pages. Published by Walden Pond Press. Source: Publisher.
It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment house—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long-held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.
First Sentence
The true story of any city in never a single tale; it's a vast collection of stories with many different heroes.

I'll let you in on a little secret...York: The Shadow Cipher was my first Laura Ruby book. I remember hearing about one or two of her other books, I just have never read, till now, any of her work. I only skimmed the synopsis, but just that small glimpse of the premise was enough to pique my interest.

  • York: The Shadow Cipher was definitely intriguing. I really liked the depth to the cipher created and left by the Morningstarr twins as it appeared to grow and change the closer Tess, Theo, and Jaime came to solving each piece of it. Everything was so well laid out and the clues themselves, well, they were interesting as they led the characters all over New York all while showcasing the how the Morningstarrs' left their mark. I guess you could say that I highly enjoyed the re-imaging of New York City that Laura Ruby presented in this book. So much I could talk to y'all about in regards to the setting, but I'll leave that to you to discover when you read it.
  • There was so many things to like about the characters and their portrayal in the book. With the twins, I liked that they were so different and that they were named after the Morningstarrs. I liked Tess; even though she was a doom-and-gloom, jump to worst possible outcome kind of girl, I liked that she kept trying to solve the mystery to save their home from destruction. As to Theo and Jaime, they both were really well formed characters with talents that helped them during their quest.
  • What about the writing? Well, the prologue was definitely intriguing as it set the scene, from the past, and gave more context to what Tess, Theo and Jaime would be facing as the squared off against the cipher. Though it also left me crazy curious to know more about a certain character and why the cipher was set (and what happened to the Morningstarrs). After the prolouge, well, it took a couple chapters for the story to take off again as the catalyst needed to be unleashed, that of their apartment complex being sold, for things to really kick into gear. Yet, on the whole I really enjoyed Laura Ruby's writing and how many layers there were to the story. Her writing paired with the world she created just really pulled me in.  

Final Verdict: York: The Shadow Cipher- A thrilling mystery over a hundred years old, and still unsolved, mixed with a fascinating version of New York and three kids racing the clock to solve the unsolvable....MORE, PLEASE!! Well crafted and immensely entertaining.

York: The Shadow Cipher earns

About the Author:
Laura Ruby is the author of books for adults, teens, and children, including Bone Gap, a National Book Award finalist and Michael L. Printz Award winner, among dozens of other accolades. Her other books include the Edgar-nominated mystery Lily’s Ghosts, the Book Sense Pick Good Girls, and the acclaimed novels Play Me and Bad Apple. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s MFA in writing for children and young adults program and lives in the Chicago area. You can visit her online at

An advanced copy of this book was received in consideration for review. All thoughts are my own.

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