“People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere. In the bread aisle at your grocery store, in the middle of you grandmother’s garden, in the front seat on your bus. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”
TITLE & AUTHOR: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
SERIES: Cassidy Blake, #1
PUBLISHED : August 28th 2018, by Scholastic
MY RATING: 5/5
Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, 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 Inspecters 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.
I don’t often read middle-grade novels because I’m afraid they’ll be too childish for me, but as this one was written by Victoria Schwab, I expected something out of the ordinary, and that’s what I’ve got. I’m used to her writing style, and I love it, but regardless, City of Ghosts is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, with ghosts! I adore supernatural, and I did when I was a kid, so I would devour this little book way back then, but I enjoyed it now, as an adult (Questionable.) too.
City of Ghosts is the first novel in the series about Cassidy Blake, who had a near-death experience, and ever since she can see ghosts. She doesn’t know why, and what’s she supposed to do with them, but when she’s near one she feels their pull, and that’s when she can cross the veil and go to the other side. Jacob is her best friend, and also a ghost, but he’s not really helpful on the matters of why and how. So Cass stumbles blindly through the other world, doing the only thing she can – snapping blurry photos of the afterlife, as photography is her one passion.
Until she gets to Edinburgh. Her parents are celebrity ghost-hunters, they write books and make TV shows about the supernatural, even though they haven’t witnessed any of it themselves. So when they make a deal to visit each of the most haunted cities in the world, and record an episode there, they bring Cass along, and unknowingly, Jacob. The two of them try to enjoy the city as much as they can, considering the amount of ghostly sightings and the pull Cass feels on every corner, but when she first meets Lara, a girl with her own secrets, and then a mysterious and powerful lady in red, Cass will both get some answers she despaired for, and some she never wanted.
Adventure, friendship and ghostly matters are the focal points of this short book, and honestly that’s perfectly enough. There was no need for macabre or overly scary, but there are still some scenes which will give you goose-bumps. Schwab went and explored Edinburgh high and low for her research, and you can feel that in the gorgeous descriptions, as you can feel she loves that city as her own. The second book is set in Paris, which the author likewise explored, and the third one will be set in New Orleans. I’m excited to immerse myself in more adventures with Cass and Jacob, and face some new ghostly threats, but I hope this will be more than a trilogy, which isn’t yet confirmed. There’s plenty of space left open for it, as there could be far more cities for Cass’s parents to record their show, and Cass is only 12, so this could well turn out to be a paranormal Nancy Drew-like series, but with time progression.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who needs a bit of adventure and supernatural in their life, and it has less than 200 pages, so you could fit it into one cozy afternoon. I don’t see why Schwab’s older fans wouldn’t enjoy it, I did, but you have to go into it knowing it’s a middle-grade novel.
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”