Monday, 24 September 2018

Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Publication Date: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 285 pages

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 was really excited about this book, in part because I adore Edinburgh and I was fascinated to see how Schwab portrayed one of my favourite cities, and in part to see what a middle grade novel from Schwab would look like, having read her young adult and adult offerings.

The answer? A little bit mixed. It's a brilliant concept, and I think younger readers will enjoy this spooky tale a lot more as the intended audience, but something felt like it was missing for me.
Perhaps it's just been a while since I read a middle grade book, but Cassidy is a really passive protagonist, she just allows things to happen to her and doesn't show a huge amount of interest in anything, which I found really baffling given what an exciting (also scary) situation she has found herself in.
She shows no interest in her powers, in what's really going on or actually finding answers (apart from a couple of brief moments in the story) and just is buffeted from one scene to the next.

With so little input from Cassidy is hard to really engage fully with the story, which was disappointing, but otherwise it's a perfectly good little tale. It's got just the right amount of scare factor, it shows parts of a really gorgeous city that you don't often see in younger fiction, and it looks like it could be the start of a nice series. However I don't think it's got quite enough to push me to pick up the next book when it's released.

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