Saturday, July 6, 2019

Review: City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab



Series: City of Ghosts #1
Genre: Middlegrade fantasy / horror
Pages: 285
Content warning: Death, monsters, violence

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.



Victoria Schwab is a queen. I’m at the point where I’ll read anything she writes, and I’ll probably give it 5 stars because it will entertain me, even if it’s not perfect. That’s exactly what happened with this book. Objectively, I know City of Ghosts has many issues, but I don’t care. I loved it. I want the next in the series right now!

The main character—Cass—is the daughter of a famous ghost-hunting duo, but unlike her parents, Cass can actually see ghosts. When her family visits Scotland to film a TV show, Cass meets another girl—Lara—who shares her unique ability. Laura tells Cass what she’s supposed to do with her gift. Cass’s task is to defeat monsters and send ghosts beyond the Veil. That creates a quandary because Cass’s best friend is a ghost. But, she doesn’t have time to worry about that because there’s a creature called the Red Raven haunting Edinburgh. It’s up to Cass and her friends to stop the monster.


Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?City of Ghosts



I don’t usually have the attention span to read a book in one sitting, but that’s what I did with this one. Victoria Schwab’s books always suck me in and then don’t let go. I can happily read for hours and not realize how much time is passing. I think that’s mostly because of the worlds she creates. The ghost world in City of Ghosts is intriguingly sinister. I was eager to get into it and start unraveling its mysteries. Edinburgh is also beautifully described. I really want to visit that place someday.

The monster-fighting action kept me reading. I have to admit that the pacing is a bit messy. There are burst of action and stretches of nothing much, but overall the book has a fairly fast-paced plot. I flew through Cass’s encounters with the creepy Red Raven. I wanted to know how Cass and her friends would save the city.

I’m happy about the focus on friendship! That’s one of the reasons I love kids’ books. I wish we saw more strong friendships in books for adults and older teens. City of Ghosts gets bonus points from me because one of Cass’s friends is dead. Books about dead things are my favorites!

I think I would have appreciated this novel as a kid. I hated reading when I was growing up because the books I had access to were tame and silly. This book is baby horror. There are scary moments, but most kids could probably handle it. If you know a kid who wants edgier fiction, I recommend this novel.


She bounces off with all the enthusiasm of someone rushing toward cake, not corpses.City of Ghosts



Like all of Schwab’s books, the worldbuilding is murky. I love the ghost world, but I don’t feel like I have a firm grasp on how or why things work. Stuff just happens. I have this problem with every single Schwab book, so I don’t expect it’ll be resolved in the sequel. She just doesn’t explain her worlds very well.


My biggest disappointment with City of Ghosts is the character development. There isn’t enough of it! For most of the book, Cass seems like a bystander who’s being dragged along by the plot. She’s not really interested in the ghost world. I guess that’s understandable, but it made it hard for me to get invested in her story at first. Why should I care about something when the character doesn’t? I also wanted to know more about her ghost friend, Jacob. He just sort of . . . exists. I hope he’s a bigger part of the next book. He has the potential to be interesting. (Also, I laughed because he’s a ghost who’s afraid of everything. That’s awesome.)


Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.City of Ghosts





Overall, I like the ghost hunting premise and the unusual friendship. I’m excited to see where the series goes next. Bring on the sequel!






24 comments:

  1. Great review! This might be the Victoria Schwab book I read. It sounds pretty good and that cover is stunning!

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  2. This sounds like a fun read! I love when friendships are highlighted in a novel, and it's funny that the ghost is afraid of everything!

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  3. I'm excited to read this one. :)

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  4. I feel the same way about Schwab! She's my current fave and I will read it all! I just picked up The Near Witch so that might be next but I'm impatiently waiting for Tunnel of Bones! :D

    Stacy Renee @ Lazy Day Lit

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  5. I've seen so many raves for Schwab in general, and this book, but I never realized this one was middle grade. Too bad the character development isn't better but it still sounds like a solid read.

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  6. I have only read one book by Schwab, and though it's not what I would normally pick, I did think her writing was amazing.

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  7. Glad you picked up Ghosts. Schwab is a lovely writer, she really knows how to make things mystical. I've been really meaning to pick up some feminist novels so if you have any recs shoot them my way.

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  8. I'm glad you enjoyed City of Ghosts overall, great review!

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  9. Fantastic review AJ and I ampleased to tell you that I hope to meet your queen in a few weeks at YALC London ;-)

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  10. Victoria Schwab is an auto-read/auto-buy author for me, too. I had similar feelings about the world-building in This Savage Song but loved the characters and story too much to get hung up on the world not being thoroughly explained. I'm sure I'll enjoy this one, too; I'm reading Vengeful right now and may follow it up with City of Ghosts.

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  11. I'll have to check this one out! I've really liked Schwab's YA stuff more than her adult stuff so I'm excited to try the middle grade. This is definitely NOT the kind of book I could have read as a kid, I was terrified of everything !

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  12. I have bought several of Victoria Schwab's books but have yet to read any of them yet. This one sounds fantastic!

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  13. Good review. Probably won’t make my tbr pile, but I like the detail you provide. Thanks.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  14. I love V.E. Schwab, so I can't believe I haven't read this yet. I agree about the world-building thing--she's a great writer but some of her fictional worlds just aren't fleshed out enough. Awesome review!

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  15. I JUST read this one too, and I really loved it. I'm not someone who really needs a fully fleshed out world or answer to why is this happening? I can suspend disbelief for the most part. I am curious about the sequel!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  16. I agree that this book is a good intro to horror book without being overly scary. I enjoyed it!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  17. I've never read anything by this author but I see her work on a lot of blogs.

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  18. I really enjoyed this book when I read it last year and I can't wait to read the sequel when it comes out! Great review!!

    ~ Kendra @ Kendra Loves Books

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  19. I (fairly randomly) started reading this when one of my clients was in library class hah. I only got to like chapter 5 before the school year ended, but I was really interested in continuing. I am really hit or miss with Schwab, but this piqued my interest. (Though now that you mention it, the lack of world-building explanation may be a BIG part of my problem so thanks for that, I can finally put it into words!) Glad you enjoyed it, I will probably pick it up- maybe next year if I have the same kid, but maybe I'll have to obtain it myself hahha

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  20. Excellent review! I'll read anything of Schwab's too. As you said, her books are perfection even if they aren't perfect. I still need to read this one too. No idea what I'm waiting for.

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  21. I wasn't a huge fan, but that's kind of my normal reaction to middle grade. My actual middle grade students have really enjoyed it!

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  22. I've seen so many great reviews for this book! I've only read one book by Schwab, but this does look like a good one. I don't usually love middle grade, but I can't deny this sounds right up my alley. Great review!

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  23. I haven’t read this, but you write a good review and if I was to read a ghost hunting book, I’d like it to be set in Edinburgh, because it’s a favorite city (Imagine encountering a ghost while climbing up Scott’s monument?

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  24. Thanks for the great review, I think I will have to get this one for my students - but of course I will have to read it first!

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