Following opener The Shadow Cipher (2017), Ruby’s York trilogy continues.
Ruby returns to her fascinatingly similar-but-different New York City (the Liberty Statue and the Underway replace the Statue of Liberty and the subway; machines such as an animate suit of armor that makes pancakes are not out of the ordinary—but gentrification and the PATH line remain the same). Picking up shortly after the destruction of their building by developer Darnell Slant, Jewish twins Tess and Theo Biederman and their best friend, Trinidadian-Cuban Jaime Cruz, are still on the trail of the treasure promised by the Morningstarr Cipher. This time around the mystery is more complex, and some of the madcap fun has been replaced by a sense of deeper malice; “fixer” Duke Goodson and his “ladies” (all white, as all the villains here seem to be) are crafty foes who even manage to kidnap Tess’ preternaturally intelligent service animal. Meanwhile the “brown-skinned” female superhero from Jaime’s sketchbooks seems to have come to life, and the revelations she drops about the mysterious Morningstarr twins, who transformed the city after arriving there in 1798, move the series from mostly mystery to possibly science fiction but maybe fantasy, in the best way possible, all supported by overt discussion of inclusion, diversity, and social justice.
Woke magical mystery for preteens? Bring on Volume 3, STAT. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-15)