Tuesday, September 15, 2020

City of Ghosts by VE Schwab


This book follows a young girl who sees ghosts. It's the first book in a planned trilogy by VE Schwab and is meant for a middle grade audience


Cassidy Blake sees ghosts. She's been able to see ghosts ever since she nearly drowned in a lake less than year ago. Her parents are "ghost hunters" who write books about the legends that lead to ghost stories and the hauntings that people have witnessed based on those legends, a blend of history and the paranormal. 

Cassidy's best friend Jacob is a ghost, though her dad thinks he's an imaginary friend and that perhaps Cassidy is a bit too old to have an imaginary friend. 

When Cassidy's parents get a job offer to turn their successful books into a TV series, Cassidy has to give up her regular family vacation in favour of travelling around the world to well known haunted locations to watch the filming of her parents' show. Their first stop is Scotland, where Cassidy meets Lara, another young girl who can see ghosts but sees her ability in a different way to Cassidy, where Cassidy simply wants to let ghosts coexist in the world, Lara sees it as her duty to help ghosts "move on". 

Cassidy and Lara forge an uneasy alliance when things get a bit scary and Cassidy needs help. 


I sorta loved these characters more than I probably should, Cassidy is a likeable protagonist with a bit of a tendency to see things her way and a stubborn streak a mile wide. 

Her best friend Jacob is a really interesting character as he is a ghost and we know very little about his back story. Cassidy has never asked Jacob how he died because she felt that it's not her business to ask. Jacob and Cassidy have an easy friendship that is fun to read and even more interesting when things get tense. 

Cassidy's parents are not... great? They really don't notice when their daughter goes missing or when she's clearly distressed but I think that's rather typical of middle grade books, absent parents make for more fun in the plot. I guess it's a bit hard for a middle grade protagonist to go off on an adventure if their parents are telling them to be home by dark and brush their teeth before bed and all that other boring reality stuff. 

The Writing 

Because this is a Middle Grade, the language is simple, not over written and mostly just gets the point across, however VE Schwab is a master of setting a creepy tone in a few words. I loved how simple and quick this was to read while still getting a bit of a creepy vibe.

Atmosphere and Setting

The atmosphere in this book is very spooky and creepy, it's perfect for a middle grade, just enough creep factor without giving a young reader nightmares about what may lurk under the bed. 

The description of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh was fantastic, I could see it in my minds' eye. This book really shines when you soak up the description and atmosphere along with the creepy story. 

The not so good

The plot did feel a little rushed in places, though I suppose it was a short book aimed at young readers, getting bogged down in world building and plot reinforcement wouldn't captivate young minds. 

The great

The characters, the spooky vibe, the sass between Cassidy and Jacob were all fun to read. I loved this book and immediately read the sequel right after (review to come on the 20th of September!)

Final thoughts  

If you know a young reader who likes a bit of a scare I highly recommend this as your next gift purchase for them (if I were you, I'd take the chance to read it first, it's a fun read!).

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