Secrets will out in thrilling ways as a wary orphan and an adventure-prone heiress face deadly peril in this action-packed first authored graphic novel from Victoria Ying (Diana: Princess of the Amazons).
Built in layers like a wedding cake, the Grand Capital City of Oskars needs a way to keep communication flowing through its levels. Madame Alexander oversees a staff of young women who connect calls at the Switchboard Operating Facility, a building with six stories of lever-and-gear-operated moving platforms and staircases. When Hannah, the spitfire daughter of the Switchboard's wealthy owner, stumbles across Ever Barnes, an orphan boy hiding in the facility, her efforts to befriend him fail miserably. After the brutal murder of his father and his own narrow escape, Ever is alone in the world but committed to protecting his family's secret: a hidden vault in the Switchboard that supposedly contains a way to protect Oskars. He trusts no one, but when Hannah saves his life from another murder attempt, Ever thaws. Soon they become allies in an uncertain world where loved ones and Switchboard operators alike hide deadly secrets, and only their friendship and ingenuity can stop the city's enemies.
Action comes first in this dazzling maze of spies, secret societies, deadly assassins and steampunk set pieces, culminating in an unpredictable climax with an anime-inspired twist. Ying winds the suspense tightly then leaves readers to wonder who is fair or foul. Crimson and gold accents over sepia-washed backgrounds evoke a feel of Victorian luxury, and the youth and energy of her lead characters resonate in her fluid portrayal of motion. Although Ying resolves the immediate crisis, nefarious villains still lurk in and outside Oskars, and hints of further secrets leave her room to pull the lever on a sequel. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library