I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Victoria/V.E. Schwab. A Darker Shade of Magic is one of my favorite trilogies (it just gets better as it goes) and Vicious was actually one of the very first reviews I ever posted on my blog. It’s an amazing book and one of the best, most original, takes on “mutant” powers that I’ve ever read. If you like X-men but also kinda think it’s overdone, try this book! Plus, the next book, Vengeful, is finally here! Five years and I am definitely hoping (assuming) that it’s going to be absolutely worth the wait. In any case, onto the book at hand. This is a great month for Schwab lovers, because not only is Vengeful out, but City of Ghosts was just published as well. I don’t usually foray into middle grade books, but for Schwab, and considering that this book sounded perfect for this time of year (hello, Fall!), I went for it.
“Every heroine needs an adventure.”
This is the story of Cassidy Blake, whose parents are ghost hunters, fairly well known for their books, who have just gotten a deal to make a ghost-hunting tv show. First stop: Edinburgh, Scotland. One of the most haunted cities’ in the world. Cassidy goes with them, of course, but is slightly less excited about the adventure than they are because she has a pretty big secret. Unlike her parents, she actually CAN see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, is a ghost. And she has the ability to cross over the “Veil” that separates the living world from the dead one. When Cassidy meets another girl in Scotland who can do the same thing, she realizes there is a lot about her “gift” that she doesn’t know. And she’s going to be under pressure to learn it fast because some of the ghosts in super-haunted Edinburgh are very dangerous.
This was the cutest spooky story I have ever read. I have a super low tolerance for scary things, so I was just a little nervous going in, but I should not have been worried. This had all the awesome atmosphere and lore of ghosts and death, but without the “keep you up all night” scaries. So, I guess if you are in the mood for something that will really get your heart beating fast, please be aware that this isn’t it. However, if you are looking for a little adventure, with a side of supernatural, this is exactly that. Personally, I found the history and folklore of ghosts in Edinburgh really fun to read about. If you have been there (and especially if you loved it there, like I did) than it’s even more interesting because you can picture all the places in your mind as Schwab takes you there. [As a side note, if you are a Harry Potter fan (and really, who isn’t?), then you’ll love all the references that are dropped throughout this novel, including a visit to the Elephant House, the birthplace of HP, where Rowling first created the characters and began writing.]
The aspects of the story related to Cassidy and Jacob’s relationship are very sweet, with just a little bit of drama to make them more plot-worthy, but nothing cringe-y or unnecessarily inflated. And Cassidy’s discoveries about why she has the ability to cross the Veil, and what her purpose is, act as a great little twist on a normal coming of age tale. As a middle grade book, things move pretty quick and, though well-developed, are easy to follow and definitely not overly profound. Also, because of target age for readers, this is quite a fast read. I finished in just a couple of hours, if that.
Overall, although this has not made me want to read more middle grade books, I have to say that I fully enjoyed this book. It was a very lively (if you’ll pardon the pun) reading experience. And if you are looking for a light ghost-y read this Fall, for you or for a child, this one would be perfect.