City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
From Goodreads: 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 think I need to start this book review with a small disclaimer: V.E. Schwab is probably my favourite author ever, after J.K. Rowling, so there’s a very good chance that I’m going to be just a touch biased going into this review.
Anyhow, I’ve finally gotten my hands on a copy of City of Ghosts and finished reading it. I’ve stared jealously at twitter at all the people I follow who snagged ARCs of this somehow for months now, and when I found out on Amazon that I’d have to wait til September to grab a copy, I was obviously pretty unhappy. Thankfully, the wonderful Waterstones in town had early copies. I went in the other day before meeting a friend for coffee and BAM, there were all these glorious copies sitting there waiting. Even better, someone had thoughtfully put them in the YA section. Now, considering the book is actually Middle Grade [MG for short] I wouldn’t have minded so much having to go into the children’s section. Except, it is currently the school holidays and, while I believe it’s cool for people to read whatever they want to read, the last time I went to check if this book was in there, I was surrounded by a lot of seven and eight year olds and I just felt a bit awkward about the whole thing.
Anyhow, on to the actual review. Like I said, this is an MG book. I don’t tend to read too many of them, so I was a bit uncertain what to make of this book. The setting and characters are perfect, of course. I feel like Schwab is an expert when it comes to setting, she really knows just where to add a deft touch of description to make the reader feel like they’re falling into a book. I’ve been to Edinburgh several times, and I felt like, by picking up City of Ghosts, I was visiting it again. Definite brownie points for all the ghost research that’s gone into this book. Schwab knows her stuff inside and out and you can just feel the passion that’s gone into crafting this story. Very well played. I also loved how many references there were to Harry Potter. It would be pretty odd to set a contemporary book in Edinburgh with a character who likes reading and NOT mention all the awesome locations in Edinburgh which look like inspiration for the books, or where Rowling went to write. There were some brilliant, laugh out loud moments when Cass and Jacob mention someone having Hufflepuff tendencies etc. It was just incredibly well crafted.
And yeah, as I’ve previously mentioned, the whole ghost research definitely deserves a bit more of a mention. I loved every bit of the creepy vibe that came from this book, and all the little stories within stories that readers are given. If you’re easily scared, this probably isn’t a book for you, but if you like a good dose of horror and chills down the spine, this book is for you. I got a good helping of it when Burke and Hare are mentioned, and again when the antagonist comes along. There’s just something so sinister about the whole thing. And again, part of this is Schwab’s writing charm; she’s able to pack so much into a single, punchy paragraph.
Overall, I’m giving City of Ghosts an 8.5/10. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the book, and I think it’s extremely well written, but I’m not the biggest fan of MG books in general, so this is going to be a slightly lower rated novel than usual. I stress once again that this is completely subjective and that I am also thoroughly recommending this book to people who do like MG. I had nothing really to criticise it apart from my lack of experience with the age category 😀
Has anyone read this book, or plans to? What did you all think of it? Thanks so much for reading my review. I do love reading and responding to all your lovely comments, so please feel free to post some below and I’ll get back to you A.S.A.P ❤