Tess, Theo and Jaime live in a Morningstarr apartment building in an alternate steam punk New York. In the eighteenth century, the mysterious Morningstarr twins designed the city with ingenious robotic creatures that run air and underground trains and scuttle out of manholes to clean streets. When a developer threatens to demolish their building, Jaime, Tess and Theo are determined to find the Morningstarr treasure to save it. First, they must solve the Morningstarr cipher, a puzzle that's stumped treasure hunters for over 160 years. As the children race to beat the demolition date, the city and the cipher seem to funnel them clues, drawing them into a Morningstarr world, both thrilling and dangerous.
This book was immensely entertaining, beautifully written and emotionally satisfying. Although the characters sometimes seemed more sophisticated than their age, especially the youngest (five or six, I think) who traveled the halls on her bike, they were all charming and diverse. The setting was richly imagined and the plot kept me turning pages. I'm looking forward to the next book and I think advanced middle grade readers of mystery and science fiction will love it.
For more kid lit reviews, head over to Jen Vincent's and Kelly Moye's blogs.