Ever Barnes is an orphan living in the old Switchboard Building in the city called Oskar. He isn’t supposed to be living there, but he has a secret. A very important secret that his father entrusted him to guard. Besides, the employees of the building tolerate his presence so long as he stays out of the way. That all changes when Hannah Morgan spots Ever while visiting the building with her father, the building’s new owner. She wants to be his friend, and help him, for she hates to think of him all alone in the gloom, but Ever keeps pushing her away. Once Ever starts to be followed by shadowy men, can he keep refusing Hannah’s help?
The city of Oskar is an intriguing place, and it’s as much a character as the people residing in it. Its secrets lure you deeper into the mystery. To me, an adult, the story was a little predictable, but the middle grade target audience will be on the edge of their seats the entire time.
Sketchy ink and watercolors drew up a steampunk world. The linework is busy and lively. There is a sepia undertone to all, which makes it seem like the entire thing was printed on yellowed newsprint or toned paper. This fit the steampunk aesthetic perfectly. To me the steampunk elements seemed a bit watered down, probably to better focus on the characters, but more of them would have been welcome.
Middle-grade readers will be thrilled by this steampunk fantasy mystery.
Ying, Victoria. City of Secrets. 2020.