Title: City of Ghosts
Series: Cassidy Blake
Author: Victoria Schwab
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
*Review contains spoilers
“Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.”
This story follows an 11 year old girl named Cassidy who survived a near death experience. This experience has left her with the ability to travel between two worlds: the living and the dead. It also left her with a friendly ghost friend named Jacob (only she can see Jacob). When Cassidy finds herself on a trip to Scotland with her historian/ghost hunting (ish) parents, things start to get very weird. She finds someone who has the same ability as her and she figures out that she has a bigger purpose in both worlds.
Plot and Setting
I had heard some pretty drab reviews of this book so I was skeptical going into it. I didn’t plan to pick up this book for my February TBR, but I recently joined The Lit Coven book club and one of their “side quest” reads was this book. I figured, “why not” and I am glad I did. This was a really quick read and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit!
I am finding myself more intrigued by books that have ghosts and hauntings as a plot so it was pretty easy for me to be curious about what experiences Cassy was going to have. Then, the setting moved to Scotland and I think Schwab did a great job creating the scene and giving it a realistic feel.
The way that Schwab created the “rules” about seeing/interacting with ghosts was well done! I liked the way she made every person and ghost have a “thread” of life. She doesn’t come right out and explain the way it all works and the importance of this “thread”, but it was intricately woven into plot points so seamlessly. It was very easily understood (which is important for middle grade).
The antagonist is an evil ghost and her prerogative is tied into the “thread” plot as well, which I really liked. I do think the author could have had Cassidy’s interaction with the different ghosts be more intricate and entertaining. Because of that, I believe this book steered clear of side stories with a goal of focusing on the main “problem” to keep the reader engaged.
I do believe there are a few loose ends to certain aspects of the story but it doesn’t ruin the entire read for me. I have to keep in mind the age group this was written for.
Cassy is supposed to be 11 or 12 years old but I think she reads more like a 15-16 year old. I bet it is hard for an adult author to write int he voice of a middle grade child. Non the less, Cass was easy to like. She is funny, kind, and adventurous. Her parents are side characters and I find myself wanting to know more about them and their dynamic. Maybe a spin off series in the future?
Jacob is the friendly ghost who is Cassidy’s best friend. There remains some mystery to Jacob which I think Schwab has intentionally created for future books. There are still questions left unanswered at the end of the book, which is a big reason I will pick up the next one!
Lara is “like Cassidy” in the sense that she too can slip between two worlds. I find it a bit remarkable that Cassidy meets Lara at the exact right place and time. Again, not a huge deal and I wonder if this will lead to a bigger plot point later in the series (like a whole community of ghost reapers!). Lara is strong, witty, and smart. I like her! I am interested if she will make an appearance in the next book or if Cassy will just be lucky enough to meet more people with the same ability as she does.
The antagonist is a ghost that is known as The Red Raven. I feel like this is the one character that feels incomplete. I just didn’t fully buy the back story and I could have used more to make it believable/scarier.
This was a super quick read and easy to follow. There was always something happening and I never felt like I wanted to skim or skip through parts. The author does a great job of keeping the reader’s attention which I think is especially important for this genre.
As I said, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by this book and at how much I liked it! I have already marked my calendar for the second book release date. Schwab is such a queen in our community and I am glad to see how versatile she is with her genre,
An easy 4.5 star read and highly recommended by me!