The Shadow Cipher (York #1) by Laura Ruby

The Shadow CipherThis wonderful book was absolutely bloody brilliant; I was obsessed with the story & characters right from the very first page & I read most of the book in one sitting. I loved everything about this adventure & I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the series. Yet again I want to scream at Laura Ruby about how incredible her work is!

When I read books I make notes along the way; it helps me to write my reviews & helps me to make sure I mention everything I want to… to show you how much I enjoyed this book & how much I was sucked into the story I will quote my notes for you:

The Shadow Cipher:
– Ava is splendid

That’s literally all I wrote, & it’s because these are the notes I made when I read a couple of chapters before bed… I read the rest of the book the next day & did not put it down once – not even to pee! Sometimes, every now & again, I come across a book that I really struggle to write a review for & it’s usually for one of two reasons, 1. nothing much happened so I’m not sure what to write about or 2. I loved it so much that all I want to do is write THIS BOOK IS AMAZING over & over again; the last time this happened was when I read Uprooted by Naomi Novik (if you’ve not read it then you must).

The Shadow Cipher includes almost everything that I want from a book – literally the only thing I could have wanted more of was scenes from the past, but I know we can’t have too many of them because otherwise it’ll spoil a lot of the mysteries & surprises from the current day. I was so excited about reading this book because of all the things it promised me & all the promises were upheld so I just fell in love with it all.

The main characters were wonderful; I loved the twins so, so much & Jaime was adorable as well. I loved that each character had their own personality & backstory, & I really liked the family dynamics (the twins’ parents were such a dream & Jaime’s grandmother is someone I would aspire to be like). I also loved that the emotion of the story all surrounds the fact that these people are being forced to leave their homes – I know a little about this as we were forced to leave the house I spent most of my childhood in & I would have done anything if it meant us being able to stay there.

Something else that was fab about the characters was that I think their ages were spot on – their parents weren’t too over- or underprotective of the children, which a lot of YA parents are, & I liked that the children told little white lies to their parents that they generally got away with. My adventures at 13/14 were nothing like the ones the twins & Jaime went on, but we would go a little further out than we were supposed to or would maybe get into a bit of trouble, but our parents would never find out & it was always such a relief! Everything we did was always innocent as well & it was nice to see that in the children too. Most of the stuff the children got up to seemed believable, despite the made-up world that they live in, & I so desperately wanted to be there with them. The one thing that bothered me was that they seemed to have unending money for transport & if they were all moving house I would think that money would be tighter than that… but eh, it’s one fault in an otherwise faultless story.

And before I forget, I really want to say that I loved Nine as well – she sounds so wonderful & I adored that she was a support animal for Tess; like in Bone Gap, Laura has managed to create a brilliant fantasy story but has still included disability in some form which makes everything more realistic but also more comforting to me as a disabled reader. I also want to say that including a bit of history about the mental health care in the Victorian era was really good of Laura; she didn’t have to write about something so sensitive but she did & I love her for it.

I also loved the originality of the inventions created by the Morningstarrs, but I really appreciated the subtle differences between our reality & the reality in this version of our world; so many little details were slightly different & Laura really made me laugh & smile with some of the small alterations she’s implemented (I also loved that when something from the real world was mentioned; like a different name for the underground/overground travel system; that the children thought it was totally absurd). I especially like how this version of the Statue of Liberty looks – she should definitely be a rusty red colour instead of green.

Something else that was wonderful about this book was that I couldn’t really predict what was going to happen next – so many of the clues were totally random (but with a brilliant logic behind them) that there was no way that I could figure out the next part of the plot or where the next clue would lead. I also love that we get a little hint at the last part of the quest from Cricket mid-way through the book & that we’re left trying to figure out how it fits into the grand scheme of things until the very end.

I pretty much loved every word of this book, it was an incredible way for me to escape after a really crappy few days & if I didn’t have such a long list of books to read immediately I would probably be reading the sequel now. I borrowed this book from the library but I’ll definitely purchase my own copies of the series when I can afford to… if you’d like to buy yourself (or me) a copy you can do so here:

Add to goodreads | & you should go & say nice things to Laura Twitter because she’s fab.



One thought on “The Shadow Cipher (York #1) by Laura Ruby

  1. I JUST finished this book so it was really interesting to read your review. Unfortunately I didn’t feel the same way about the book, I feel like the author’s writing style just isn’t for me and I found it condescending towards middle grade kids. I think I have been let down by too many “The Da Vinci Code” like books to fully expect the best from this one. If you’re interested in the rest of my thoughts you can check them out here:


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