City of Secrets Youth GN Review

An orphan boy and an adventurous girl take on this steampunk city and the secrets it holds.

Taken from Barnes & Noble

A mechanized city harbors a secret. In the capital city of Oskars, orphan Ever Barnes lives among the gears and levers in the Switchboard Operating Facility, an edifice that can rotate and shift. Instructed by his father (who was brutally murdered), Ever guards a mysterious safe housed within the movable building.

Normally my reviews are on manga or anime, but I came across this children’s graphic novel and could not resist. I found this book at my local library and if you’ve read anything from this blog you’ll know that I love using the library to find manga. After appreciating the watercolor-esque art, I decided to skim through it, but of course ended up reading the entire thing.

City of Secrets by Victoria Ying is a story taking place in the city of Oskars. This story follows a young orphan boy named Ever and his newfound adventurous friend Hannah as they discover secrets hidden within the city’s Switchboard Operating Facility. Ever, living in the Switchboard Facility knows the ins and outs of everything behind the scenes in the facility. From knowing which levers change the stairs to which will send you to the trash. Hannah, the daughter of the new owner of the Facility is a girl craving adventure, despite those around her telling her she should be more “ladylike”. A familiar trope that will last through the decades, but of course, the young girl proves them wrong the entire story.

The book is pretty fast-paced but easy to read, as it is a children’s book, but there was something about the story that kept me enthralled. There were heavy themes in the book like seeing the death of a father and constant assassination attempts upon children just to name a few, but the action and wonder that the world-building provided was beautiful. A city built on levels, not just secrets, where magic runs at a price for those living in the city from love potions to magic with darker implications.

Once Ever and Hannah uncover the city’s secrets on their own, the danger for them increases and they learn more of the secrets the city and both their families have held on to. Again, a fast-paced read, where the ending is a bit of a shocker in a turn of using the power of friendship and other mechanical tech found hidden in the city.

If you’re interested in this book for you (or a little friend), I’d recommend it as an easy light and fun read. Ying also has a sequel called City of Illusion that came out this year as well. If you’re lucky, you can check them out at your local library!

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