The Clockwork Ghost (York, book 2), by Laura Ruby

The Clockwork Ghost, by Laura Ruby (middle grade/YA, Walden Pond Press, May 15 2019), continues the adventure begun in The Shadow Cipher without missing a beat.  Twins Tess and Theo, and their friend Jaime, are still following a twisting trail of impossible clues through an alternate New York of mechanical marvels.  They still have more questions than they have answers.  And they still have enemies, most notably a nasty piece of work  and his henchwomen who want to eliminate the threat they might pose to greedy plans to revamp the city.

There's no point in recapping the story.  It is a dream of puzzles and ciphers and mechanical machinations as clues are found and followed.  And it is a very bright and vivid sort of dream, that doesn't make sense exactly but never leaves the reader twitchy and wondering if there will be an ending or not. And the clues and such are cool, and are anchored into the history of the city.

But what I loved most were the three kids at the heart of the story--their person-ness was never overwhelmed by the bright and shininess (or sometimes dimness) of what was happening around them.   Their characters don't Develop in a journey from a to b, but rather become more and more strongly who they are.  As a reader who finds it off-putting when action and adventure leaves a character with no time for me to get to know them, I appreciated this lots.

There are also many touches of humor and whimsy that pleased me very much, as did many direct discussions of social justice issues.

And then the ending.  I hope we don't have to wait two more years for the third book!

I liked the first book lots (here's my review) but I liked this one more, mostly because as someone who works professionally in historic preservation the threat to the historic apartment book in the first book was much too uncomfortable for me!  The threat to historic buildings is still here, in a general sense, in this one, but not right in one's face.

In my review of the first book, I said:

"At one point the kids hear the story of a zoo giraffe who escaped captivity and threw itself into the river, and they sit, "watching the water together, imagining giraffes loping gracefully beneath the surface, making their way home" (page 246 of the ARC).  Which I think might be the overarching metaphor of the whole book (or perhaps not), but which in any event is an image I love."

And this feeling I have about the metaphor of the giraffes (impossible home-goings, the beauty of the unreal and impossible, the graceful loneliness of giraffes/people doing their best)  is even stronger now I've read the second book.

If you want a more coherent sort of synopsis, here's the (starred) Kirkus review.

Note on reader age--this is being sold as one of those 10-14 year old sort of books, not clearly YA because there's no romance/sex/growing up in a YA sort of way, but one that will appeal to kids older than MG.  Basically give it to smart thoughtful kids/grown-ups who have the patience not to want answers right away.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read either of these books, but I don't have much patience waiting for sequels. Maybe I will wait until the third book is out. Thanks for telling me about these.


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