Hello humans! Has it got to a point where I will buy pretty much everything that Victoria Schwab produces? She could bring out a book about the nuts and bolts of 19th-century steam trains and I would still preorder the special edition! But I was genuinely very excited about the release of City of Ghosts, which promised to be a spooky middle-grade novel which is right up my alley. To top it off, this book was set in Edinburgh, which is a city I adore.
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.
I wish I could have read this book while I was in Edinburgh, unfortunately, it was published just a few days after I got back. One of the things that makes this book so exceptional is that Victoria Schwab’s love for the city pours through in every page, you can see exactly why she dedicated the book to the city. The descriptions of various parts of the city may be through the eyes of a younger girl but they are dripping in detail and excitement for all the wonders Edinburgh has. I wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘City of Ghosts’ tours up and running in a year or so, taking tourists to the places within the book.
I was interested to see where the book would be pitched. Obviously, Middle-Grade isn’t only read by those younger readers (I am 23 after all) but it needs to be accessible to that younger audience. I thought this was handled masterfully, it isn’t patronising, it doesn’t talk down to the reader, in fact, I would probably risk saying that I think the main thing that makes this book more accessible for younger readers is that Schwab takes the time within the prose to explain some of the ideas, objects and topics she is dealing with.
Of course, there aren’t the levels of violence and/or gore that one might find in, for example, the Shades of Magic series. That being said, Schwab doesn’t shy away from the fact that she is dealing with a scary story. These are ghosts, and they aren’t Caspar by any stretch of the imagination. This is the kind of story I would have adored when I was a younger reader, the kind of story that has one foot in the dark. I’ll confess to having been a spooky child (though Doctor Who scared the pants off me, books were ok) and I would have lapped this up. I did lap this up at 23!
I loved these characters and I’m very interested to read the next book in the series, which I believe is due out in 2019? In the meantime, I’m certainly going to get my fill of Schwab with Vengeful and more coming out in the coming months!
My rating: 5/5 stars
I bought this book myself, all opinions are my own.
What say you? What are some of your favourite middle-grade stories? Let me know in the comments below!