I’m a sucker for the concept of an “undercity” or “shadowcity” underneath or in the cracks of a major metropolis. I fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere for that reason, and was thrilled to take the Seattle Underground tour when my brother lived there.

So I had to try Kiki Strike not only because the author’s name is “Kirsten”, but also because the main plot of the first book was about the discover of a shadow city underneath Manhattan.

Ananka Fishbein goes to a private school for girls where the daughter of a wealthy socialite, dubbed “The Princess”, holds sway over the social life of the school. Ananka herself is not part of the social upper circle at school, and begins to notice another outsider at school, gets mixed up with renegade girl scouts, and tries her hand at international espionage.

Adventures commence.

What I love about this book is that the narrator’s voice is all I want from a YA heroine; unsure, surprised at her own capabilities, comparing herself physically to other girls, misunderstanding other people’s motives, making assumptions she later regrets, and snarkiness.

The prose itself is eminently readable.

Highly, highly recommended for girls.