I picked up an arc of City of Ghosts at Yallwest, and had to read it immediately. It is short & sweet, and definitely pushes the boundaries of middle grade without being too scary or shocking. I am really excited to see how this series progresses.
Click here for the synopsis!
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 have read almost everything Victoria Schwab has written to date, and I am convinced she is a magician. She can write for any genre, any age range, and I will fall in love with the story no matter what. There were a lot of things that range of a younger audience in this book like frequent Harry Potter references, but I fully enjoyed them as a 28-year-old “adult” human.
City of Ghosts does get a little scary at times delving into a realm called the Ghost Dimension and highlighting real Scottish myths. I found all of this enchanting and just the right amount of scary. Think The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I think I would have loved this in middle school, and I love it now.
Even though this is a 5 star read for me, there were some elements I could critique. The pop culture references were a bit of a double-edged sword for me, and at times they threw me back into reality too much. I was left with a ton of questions about the world and the mechanics of the Ghost Dimension, but that’s ok because I know we’ll get answers later! One of the characters almost of omniscient. This started to bother me towards the end because they seemed to know everything while the MC, Cassidy, knew nothing. A lot of the plot was predicated on the fact that people kept knowledge from Cassidy and that really bugs me in any book.
Overall I enjoyed the story and it was a lot of fun. It felt like the first in a series and I am looking forward to what Schwab does with the characters going forward. There is so much creative freedom in middle grade so I think this series could really excel. If you enjoyed Schwab’s Archived books, I would also recommend this one. There are a number of similarities, though the MC herself is dramatically different.
City of Ghosts hits shelves on August 28th, let me know if you are adding it to your fall reading list!