City of Ghosts
author : victoria schwab
pages : [hardcover] 272
memorable quote :
Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?
favorite character : cass
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 listened to the audiobook version and while I’ve slowly been determining that audiobooks may not be for me, my review will focus on the content of the book. Not the delivery. However much I may want to rant about it.
City of Ghosts is a paranormal story, if you couldn’t guess from the name, with a pretty unique premise and setup. Cass moves with her family to Scotland, where they’re filming a paranormal TV show. Although her parents are obsessed with the supernatural and she’s told them about the ghost that follows her, for whatever reason they decided not to believe her (?????! why). Jacob gives her cryptic warnings and is obsessed with comic books. He’s her best friend, and he’s dead.
But it was hard to connect with Jacob, in the narrative. I didn’t really find myself wondering about his past or how he’d died. All of the ghosts in this story seem to have that aspect in common. They’re pale stereotypes of what they might have once been, with little by way of personality. They aren’t particularly funny, not very ominous. They only exist. Which is not great, for a paranormal book.
However, Cass is a fantastic main character, which makes me think this series could be something great. Middlegrade readers will absolutely love her. With her dry sense of humor and her impeccable loyalty, her anxieties and her adventurous spirit, she’s the perfect lead.
Which is why I’m left thinking something that I don’t know I’ve ever considered with another book: maybe the sequel will be better. Maybe, with a new paranormal portion of the plot, new obstacles for Cass to face, the pieces of this series will come together even brighter.