Title: City of Ghosts
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Cassidy Blake, #1
Release Date: August 28th 2018
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
It’s nearly the summer holidays, and for Cassidy that means soon she’ll be travelling to the lake with her parents where there will be no ghosts, other than her best friend Jacob, tapping at her consciousness. Her parents have other plans though, famous as The Inspectres they’ve written countless books on ghosts and now a TV show has been optioned, which means Cassidy and her parents will be travelling to Edinburgh to explore the paranormal.
I’d never read a middle grade book by Victoria Schwab before, although she is one of my favourite authors, and as much as I enjoyed City of Ghosts it was missing that spark that her young adult books have had for me. City of Ghosts felt very much like a set-up piece for the series; it introduced the characters and the situation, gave Cassidy and the readers some clarity on how she could see and travel through the Veil, but that was about it.
Edinburgh is the first stop on The Inspectres tour, it’s a city filled with more ghosts than Cassidy has ever seen before and a city which plays home to another girl who can see them. Lara tells Cassidy what they’re supposed to be doing, as in-betweeners who can travel through the Veil, but before Cassidy has time to accept her new role she finds herself stalked by the Red Raven, a ghost who wants to take Cassidy’s life for her own.
Based on what I read in City of Ghosts I do think this will be a series I really enjoy. Now that this first book has set up the characters and given Cassidy some background behind her own abilities it should allow the plot more room to develop, because that’s what I felt was lacking in City of Ghosts. While the Red Raven was introduced early on it seemed like she took a backseat while Cassidy, and then Lara explained all about their abilities and roles as in-betweeners.
Cassidy has been able to see the Veil ever since she ‘died’, and while she can ignore the ghosts when she feels them tapping at her conscience it becomes harder the longer she tries. She’s more of a tourist in the Veil, watching what happened to the people trapped there, but the ghosts in her home city are very different to the ghosts in Edinburgh. Cassidy seems older than she actually is and more mature; her near death experience and her abilities have given her a strong confidence which is what enables her to go through the Veil again, even when it tries to trap her.
Having Cassidy’s parents as The Inspectres meant that there was a lot of background to the things Cassidy sees beyond the Veil. Cassidy doesn’t ignore the ghosts who call to her or hide from her gift even though there is always a risk of getting trapped in the Veil herself if she stays for too long, but that’s what she has Jacob for.
Jacob saved Cassidy’s life when she nearly drowned which connected the two of them; he can hear her thoughts and travel through the Veil with her where he tries to keep her safe, which usually just means reminding Cassidy to leave before it’s too late. We don’t know a lot about Jacob’s past before he saved Cassidy’s life, but he’s loyal to her above anything else and it’s obvious he’s keeping more secrets than not, about his life and about the Veil.
I loved the friendship between Jacob and Cassidy. They’re never far from one another, easy when one of them is a ghost who can travel anywhere unseen, and the two have a series of rules for their friendship designed to help them each respect the other’s secrets and privacy, but the main one is that neither of them go into the Veil alone. Cassidy’s parents know about Jacob, but while her mother is a believer in ghosts her father is more sceptical, and just thinks Jacob is her imaginary friend.
One of my favourite parts of this book was the setting; Edinburgh was the first stop on The Inspectres tour to discover more about the cities ghosts for their show. This book was full of ghost stories and the development of the different myths and legends the city has was really well written. I’d been to Edinburgh before reading this book but I loved exploring the city all over again with Cassidy as she walked the Royal Mike and wandered through Edinburgh Castle, I certainly learnt a lot more about the cities’ history reading City of Ghosts.
I haven’t read many middle grade books, young adult is more my genre of choice, but I really enjoyed City of Ghosts. I’m hoping that now everything has been set up in this first book the plot will have more room to grow in the second, but either way I can’t wait to see what city Cassidy, her parents and her best friend travel to next.
What did you think of City of Ghosts? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.