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Review: York: The Map Of Stars

York The Map of Stars

Title: York: The Map of Stars
Author: Laura Ruby
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Page Count: 514
Published by: Walden Pond Press
Date Published: May 12, 2020
You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org


In the final instalment of this steam punk middle grade fantasy, York: The Map of Stars, picks up  right after the culminating events of book two with Tess, Theo, and Jamie continuing on the hunt to solve the 160 year old Morningstarr Cipher.

On their tail is a host of villains set on discovering this invaluable, powerful secret including Darnell Slant, the evil billionaire buying up and tearing down their beloved city, an entitled and powerful upper east side heiress, and a mad animal doctor. As the crew spiral closer and closer to the final clues, it is up to the trio, with the help of a mysterious person from the past, to solve the Cipher once and for all and set things right before it’s too late.

*This is a Spoiler FREE review*


I’ll just start by saying this – what an amazing series. Truly, just an absolute treat of fantastic imagination in a reimagined, futuristic, steam-punk middle grade fantasy that combined so many amazing elements: historical events, social-political commentary, inclusion, diversity, friendships, and family dynamics. At times spooky, at times heart pounding, at times sad, this series is truly a stand out in my years of reading middle grade. Always opening the door to important conversations and reflections on our past.

However. For this mother-daughter reading duo, this final instalment just fell a bit short. It is an incredible tome of a book at over 500 pages. Unfortunately, unnecessarily so. Often getting bogged down in over writing and meandering story lines that aren’t very well connected, then having huge reveals seemingly happening off page.

York: The Map of Stars really focuses in on the ideas of time travel and alternate timelines, a concept that is quite cerebral and challenging at the best of times … let alone for a middle grade audience. Of course, it can be done exceptionally well, as in A Wrinkle In Time, but it definitely needs a gentle hand and steady course of thoughtful, age-minded explanation. I have praised Laura Ruby so much in this series for not talking down to her audience, but I feel too much was left ambiguous that should’ve been more clearly spelled out, especially for a finale.

While it wasn’t our favourite book in the triology, the York series is truly a gem of the middle grade fantasy genre. Laura Ruby always treats her young audience with respect, never talking down to them and always opening up superior opportunity for important socio-political and historical conversation. York: The Map of Stars is a very challenging read clocking it at over 500 pages and deals with the hard-to-navigate concept of alternate timelines and for a finale we felt a lot of storylines were simply abandoned or not quite wrapped up. Overall an amazing series with a bit of a lukewarm ending.

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