This 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
– I LOVE IT
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: