Book Review: York: The Shadow Cipher

by Laura Ruby

The Morningstarr twins shaped New York into what it is through their numerous inventions. And then, one day, they suddenly disappeared. The only thing they left behind was the Old York cipher, a puzzle tied to the city that promised treasure at the end.

For years, people have tried and failed to solve the York Cipher. Now, it has fallen to the wayside, a tourist fascination, but no one tries to crack the codes anymore.

When Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz learn that their apartment building, one of the five original Morningstarr buildings, along with the other Morningstarr buildings have been sold and are doomed to demolition, they can only see one way to save their home, the city they know, and the York Cipher: they have to solve the puzzle the Morningstarrs left behind.


Event though York: The Shadow Cipher is set in an alternate timeline, it is very easy to pick up on the history and how New York City is different. It was fun to see what Ruby added to and kept in her version of New York City.

My favorite part of the book was the characters. They all had distinct personalities that fit their characters so well. My favorite character was probably Mima. Her comments and grandmother-ness were great!

The plot was paced well. Along the way, readers pick up tidbits about history and ciphers.

One thing I couldn’t decide whether I liked or not was the Morningstarr machines. They play a large part in the York Cipher. They are some things that happen with the machines that were a little weird to me. I’m not sure if it felt weird to me because we don’t know how the Morningstarr machines worked, or if it was something else.

Cautions: some non-graphic violence

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