City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Publication date: 06 September 2018
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Page count: 285 pages
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
I’ve been curious about Victoria Schwab’s new middle grade tale because it’s such a departure from her adult fantasy novels. As you all may know, I’m not a huge fan of her adult books but really like her as a person. City of Ghosts sounded promising because it contains so many things I love — ghosts, Edinburgh, and cats. I dove in a little skeptical, but ended up really enjoying this little tale.
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.
City of Ghosts is a fun adventure that follows Cass and her ghost friend Jacob as they navigate Edinburgh, the city of ghosts. I really loved how well Schwab captured the spirit (ha) of Edinburgh, a city that is very close to my heart and rich with tales of the paranormal. You get such a great sense of the city as Cass and Jacob wind their way through the streets and closes, and it was fun spotting the various landmarks and locations throughout the book. I personally thought it took awhile for them to actually get to Edinburgh, slowing the story down a bit. Once they arrive and the plot gets going, however, I did enjoyed it more.
Cass was a fine character, but I wish there was a little more to her. I can put some of my reactions to the plot and writing down to this being a middle grade book when that’s not my usual taste in reading, but I don’t think this works with that argument. She felt almost passive in her own adventure, and I would have loved to see more spirit (ha) from Cass.
I really liked that there were so many secrets surrounding her ability to see through the veil and see ghosts. Schwab hooks the reader into Cass’s story well — she answers just enough questions and leaves just enough open for the reader to want more. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Jacob, a ghost boy who saved her life, and the fact that he has his own secrets. I also really enjoyed their budding acquaintance with Lara — she was probably my favourite character and I’m hoping we see her again!
Overall, I liked City of Ghosts and would definitely recommend it for some spooky autumn reading, despite a serious lack of cat familiars (a major disappointment, given the cover of the book).
Want to buy City of Ghosts? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):