Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1)
By Victoria Schwab
Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Cassidy Blake’s parents may write books about ghosts for a living, but for Cass, ghosts are all too real. After being saved from drowning by a ghost named Jacob, who becomes her best friend, Cassidy can step into the Veil, the curtain between the living and the dead. When her parents are given the opportunity to film a TV show about haunted places around the world, the family packs their bags for Edinburgh, Scotland, where Cassidy is about to discover that not all ghosts are friendly like Jacob.

Review: Victoria Schwab has become an auto-buy author for me, so of course I had to check out her middle grade novel, City of Ghosts. In it we meet Cassidy Blake, a girl whose near-death experience has given her the ability to cross into the Veil, the barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead. Cass’s best friend is Jacob, a snarky, comic book-loving ghost who saved Cass from drowning. Cass and Jacob’s friendship was definitely the highlight of the novel for me; I loved the banter between them.

Overall, though, I’m bummed to say that I just wasn’t feeling this book. While I loved the concept and the wonderful, thoroughly detailed descriptions of Edinburgh, the story itself seemed to be missing something. As spooky as some of Cass and Jacob’s forays into the Veil are, the sense of danger doesn’t feel all that palpable.

I also thought that the book took a while to get going, and even then, the plot is pretty straightforward. I think I expected more suspense and tension build-up given that this is a story about ghosts. I realize that this is middle grade, but I felt there was still room to add more layers to the plot and to the characters.

Perhaps I’m too used to the complicated characters of Schwab’s adult novels to fully appreciate City of Ghosts. This one fell a bit short for me, but I do think that the book offers plenty of chills to thrill younger readers who will enjoy watching Cassidy and Jacob grow as characters as they continue their ghostly adventures together.

All in All: Sadly, I didn’t love this as much as I’d hoped despite some snappy dialogue and an immersive setting. The plot was a tad thin for me to really get into the story. Middle grade readers, however, will very likely find City of Ghosts to be a promising start to the series.


  1. As much as I love V.E. Schwab, I haven't picked this one up yet because everyone seems to be having similar issues with it. I think I will still read it at some point, but it isn't super high on my TBR right now.

    1. Even for a middle grade read, I thought this could've used a bit more complexity to both the plot and the characters. It was a good read, just not my favorite Schwab.


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