Arch-fiend Jack Hellcoal has sent his supernatural minions to transform New York into a literal hell on earth. But two orphans, Brooklyn cardsharp Sam and fireworks expert Jin, fight back to claim the city “for the people of New York.” This historical fiction novel and prequel to The Boneshaker (2010), features supernatural elements; explores themes of friendship, first love, and confronting one’s greatest fears; and will appeal to a wide range of seventh- through twelfth-grade readers. The novel’s length allows its compelling plot to cast a wide net, its characters to develop fully, and complex, important issues, including national identity and racial discrimination in post-Civil War America, to be explored in a way that feels natural to the narrative. Back matter discusses characters’ cultural heritages, New York in the 1870s, and social and political issues relevant to the period. Final versions of full page illustrations were not available. Review based on an ARC.
Ted McCoy, Oakland PL