3.5 stars. This probably would have been 4 stars for me if it had come to a somewhat satisfying conclusion instead of a brutal cliffhanger. It’s a major pet peeve of mine when authors don’t make books in series, especially the first in a series, have a bit of closure so you feel like you’ve read something that feels halfway complete. It’s ok to make your readers want more, I just really hate feeling like I have to go on to the next book to find out any resolution rather than just wanting to spend more time in the world. Anyway, mini rant over.
My favorite book as a kid was The Westing Game (still holds up, read it if you haven’t!) so now I get very interested if anything gets billed as a similar read. I snagged this from the library as soon as I heard this scratched that itch and those people weren’t wrong. This isn’t exactly like The Westing Game of couse (nothing could be), but it does have the same kind of puzzle magic to it.
Twins Tess and Theo Biedermann live in an alternate history New York where there are steampunk elements heavily influenced by two inventors at the turn of the century. When they died, they left a puzzle to the city promising treasure. A century later, the puzzle is a well-worn tourist attraction and magnet for obsessives. When the twins find out they’re losing their apartment to redevelopment, they decide to try and solve the old cipher at last in the hopes that it’ll save their home.
Definitely recommend this, especially to kids who like puzzle adventure stories. Just make sure you have the next book in the series in hand (it’s publishing in May).