RUBY, Laura. York: The Shadow Cipher. 496p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062306937.
Gr 5-8 –In an alternate present-day New York, three seventh graders embark on a citywide adventure as they attempt to solve a centuries-old cipher in order to save their home. In the mid-19th century, the Morningstarr twins, brilliant inventors who created steampunk-esque technology and iconic architecture that greatly influenced New York, disappeared, leaving a puzzle for the city, known as the Old York Cipher. They bequeathed a large sum of money to their employee, Ms. Ava Oneal, as well as the building that the modern-day Biedermann twins Theo and Tess, along with their friend Jaime Cruz, live in and are trying to save. Ava, an intelligent and mysterious woman, sets in motion the events leading up to the present day. Unsure whom to trust and facing dangers around every corner, Theo, Tess, and Jaime must solve the cipher if they want to save New York as they know it. Ruby’s latest is a high-stakes mystery novel filled with intriguing puzzles, solid world-building, and diverse characters. The Morningstarrs were immigrants to America and funded projects that were beneficial to people of all backgrounds. The wealthy real estate developer who wants to evict people from the Morningstarr apartment buildings is an antithesis to the Morningstarr legacy, which the teens are trying to protect. VERDICT An engaging series opener that will leave readers eagerly awaiting future installments.
This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2017 issue.