I recently attended a writing conference where I learned from the best and the brightest in the kidlit writing industry. One of the panels included New York children's librarian, Betsy Bird. When asked to recommend just one book, she enthusiastically suggested York, by Laura Ruby.
The first lines of York drew me in immediately: "The true story of any city is never a single tale; it's a vast collection of stories with many different heroes. But most storytellers believe that theirs is the only true story and that they are the only true heroes. They are surprised to find out they are wrong."
These lines held the promise of mystery and adventure. I was so captivated that I read the entire 430 page book in one sitting. Granted, I was sequestered on a flight across the country, but I had plenty of distractions (mainly my five children and husband!) This book is filled with adventure, mystery and intrigue. The characters are engaging, the plot fascinating, and the interweaving of past and present is magical. And did I mention the puzzles? It is a tribute to the beauty and intrigue of New York City and the secrets it holds.
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-, 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, 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, a brilliant set of twins, live in a Morningstarr apartment house with their friend Jaime Cruz— until a real estate developer announces his plans to buy the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. If Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real and solve it before the buildings are destroyed.
What the critics are saying:
“In this smart, immersive series starter, Ruby expertly juggles stunning plot choreography, realistic stakes in a captivating fantasy setting, well-wrought characters, and flashes of sharp cultural commentary.” — Booklist (starred review)
“This first volume opens up an ever expanding sense of magic, culminating in a bittersweet ending that promises bigger things to come. The past informs the present as the review informs readers: don’t let this one go.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Ruby’s latest is a high-stakes mystery novel filled with intriguing puzzles, solid world-building, and diverse characters. An engaging series opener that will leave readers eagerly awaiting future installments.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
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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 www.lauraruby.com.