City of Illusion

Viking. Jul. 2021. 256p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593114513.
Gr 4-8–It has been three months since Ever Barnes and Hannah Morgan saved the capital city of Oskars in a battle with the rival city of Edmonda led by Vash, a dangerous assassin. Vash, now wanted for war crimes, has fled to neighboring Alexios to plan his revenge and take control of the three sister cities. To stop him, Hannah’s family travels to Alexios to contact the secret society that runs intelligence there. When Hannah’s father disappears, Ever and Hannah discover that Alexios has secret mechanical underground levels, just like their hometown of Oskars, and they discover a group of children who are in league with Vash. Hannah and Ever must gain the group’s trust in order to vanquish Vash. Themes of friendship and unity run throughout Ying’s follow-up to City of Secrets. This graphic novel is steampunk in all its glory; giant robots, ancient mythology, futuristic technology, and a healthy dose of fantasy. While the quick pacing and young children’s abilities require a suspension of belief, the plot is engaging and middle grade readers will fall in love with Ying’s expressive artwork. Alexios is like a puzzle, with detailed sketches of shifting walls and underground pathways that highlight the magical undercurrents that ground the graphic novel’s mystery. Giant robots battle it out in manga-inspired action sequences that fill the panels with sweeping movement, falling away to complete the mythology that is shared between the three cities. Ever and Hannah appear to be Asian.
VERDICT A delightful combination of Victorian-era steampunk with modern themes, Ying’s conclusion to this graphic novel duology is a worthy addition to library collections serving middle grade readers.

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