Title: City of Ghosts || Author: Victoria Schwab || Audiobook Narrator : Reba Buhr || Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Middle Grade || Publisher: Scholastic Press || Year of publication: 2018 || No. of pages: 285 || Available at Amazon, Bookdepository and Bol.com
City of Ghosts is the story of Cassidy Blake who nearly drowns and a ghost named Jacob who saves her life. Their spirits get tangled up in the proces and now Cassidy is not entirely alive and Jacob is not completely dead … and as a consequence Cassidy can now cross into the spirit roam.
Why should you pick up this book and/or audiobook?
First and foremost because it’s fall (as I am writing this review) and that is exactly the time of year to immerse yourself in a ghost adventure like this one. Second and best reason …. it’s a Victoria Schwab!!
Since this tale is told by the one who I consider the mistress of crafting mostly dark, fantastical and/or supernatural worlds, I knew there was a 99.9% chance that this book was going to be awesome (even if it was middle grade). And I was right …
This ghost adventure story had exactly the right ingredients to keep me turning those pages. A pre-teen heroine by the name of Cassidy Blake, who has the ability to see ghost but doesn’t breathe a word about it to anyone except for her ghostly-best-friend Jacob. Cassidy’s parents, who land a job hosting a television show about the most haunted places and talk about ghost all the time but have never seen one. And last but not least there is Edinburgh, a place with a very crowded spirit world.
When one throws all the aforementioned together and gives this brew a little stir … you get exactly the right amount of eeriness to fill a middle grader with spine chilling dread but not so much they will not be able to sleep at night.
Falling in love with the main characters’ narrative voice (especially when streaming the audiobook) is quite easy. Although Cassidy is a bit sarcastic at times, it’s always in a way that made me chuckle. Her ghostly friend Jacob matches her dry sense of humor perfectly. Their friendship is truly heartwarming, cause they’ve got each others backs no matter what. This is not always a good thing and often it gets them into more trouble than it helps them get out of.
What are the cons?
I don’t know why I always attempt to write this part into my review. More often than not I enjoy my reading experience so much (cause I have thoroughly researched the book before I even picked it up) … that I am incapable of finding faults.
This book is no exception and that is why I’ve decided to go with the things other readers have issues with.
- The writing is often referred to as simplistic (but I suspect this complaint comes from readers who are not always aware of the fact that this book is for a middle grade audience).
- There are more than a few Harry Potter references, simply because Cassidy (like most middle graders) happens to be a Harry Potter fan.
Although the story never missed a beat and it’s exactly the right amount of words/pages … to me it was way too short and this is my only complaint. I just hate the fact that I will have to wait till 2019 for the next instalment in this delightful series.
What is so remarkable about this book ? (might be sort of spoilery)
Since this is the first instalment in the Cassidy Blake series it should come as no surprise that besides a riveting, mainly plot driven ghost story we also get a lot of insight on the dynamics of the world behind the veil and how Cassidy learns to use her paranormal abilities. It’s obviously set up for future instalments but it never feels info dumpy.
If you’re familiar with Victoria Schwabs writing, it will come as no surprise that the world building is this books biggest draw. Victoria’s description of how the Veil (spirit world) calls out to Cassidy is very vivid and the fact that this call is very hard to resist… definitely ups the ante.
The spirits within the Veil seem to be trapped in their own time loop and are therefore constantly reliving the moment they died. Not all of them are aware of the fact that they are dead. This turns out to be the main reason why Cassidy can step into the Veil. She has the ability to help the ghosts crossover. But of course this book and probably the rest of the series (for now just 1 more book) will be about the ghost that don’t cross over willingly.
Verdict = ☆☆☆☆
City of ghosts was a most enjoyable read. In fact so much so that the next book in the series will be pre-ordered (as soon as this is made available).
Now we are familiar with Cassidy, Jacob & the Veil, I suspect the stakes are about to go up … and in true Victoria Schwab fashion the next book will be even more action packed.
☆ = bad | ☆☆ = okay-ish | ☆☆☆ = fun | ☆☆☆☆ = amazing | ☆☆☆☆☆ = exceptional