City of Secrets by Victoria Ying, 252 pp, RL 4

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying
Purchased at Barnes & Noble

City of Secrets is the debut graphic novel from Ying, and author and illustrator of picture books who started her career as an artist on many animated films, including "Tangled," "Wreck It Ralph" and "Frozen." Her picture book, MEOW! is one of my favorite read-alouds and a huge hit with primary grades. Ying's sets her story in a city built on clockwork secrets where four trusted families hold the keys to each. These families must come together when one of their own turns on them, placing the city in grave danger. The star of the story is twelve-year-old Ever Barnes, son of the keeper of the secret housed in the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building that was once a multileveled theater with all sorts of moving staircases and floors. Ever has been hiding out there since his father was murdered four years ago - before he could reveal the full secret he was keeping to his son. Ever is barely staying out of trouble when Hannah Morgan, daughter of the new owner of the building, forces her way into his hidden world and saves his life. Together, the two stay one step ahead of the assassins from Bronze Knife Syndicate while learning more about the secret Canary Society dedicated to saving their city.

Ying's illustrations are filled with energy and action, and set squarely in a beautiful, sepia toned steampunk world. Occasional pops of red and blue come from Hannah, who has Asian features, and the dresses her mother forces her to wear. With the city of Oskars, Ying has created a many-leveled treasure box of mechanical mysteries that reveal themselves as the political intrigue of the adult world intensifies. Ying introduces so many intricate delights into City of Secrets that you will be anxiously awaiting the sequel, City of Illusions, due out in 2021! 

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