City of Secrets

Viking. Jul. 2020. 256p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780593114483; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780593114490.
Gr 3-6–A scrappy orphan named Ever Barnes knows the city of Oskars is hiding something important—but what? He spends his days hiding in the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building made up of cogs and interconnected layers. Mr. Morgan, the facility’s new owner, is proud of his acquisition. His daughter, Hannah, is eager to explore the building and perhaps befriend this orphan boy she keeps hearing about. Hannah often feels constrained by her mother’s expectation to act like a lady and would much prefer to wear pants and get into scrapes. Ever overcomes his initial reluctance to let Hannah into his life when it becomes clear that the men who killed his father are now after him, too. Lisa, a plucky switchboard operator, is a fantastic side character who’s hiding a few secrets of her own. Underground societies, family codes, and danger abound. While there’s a lot of story to keep track of, it all comes together in the end. The primary mystery is revealed at the last moment and sets up the potential for future volumes. Ying’s panels are fluid and inviting. Vibrant action scenes are mostly wordless and showcase the intricate and impressive design. Exploring the steampunk city is an adventure for Hannah and Ever and for readers.
VERDICT An appealing steampunk graphic novel for fans of Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker.

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