After picking this book up many months ago, I decided that a weekend away in Edinburgh signalled the perfect time to finally read City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. This was my first foray into V’s middle grade work, having read her adult books before, and I was definitely not disappointed.
Looking back I’m honestly not sure what took me so long to read this book. I started it earlier on in the year and only got so far before putting it down to pick something else up. This time, on my journey to Edinburgh, I got sucked into the story right away…
Cass is just your average girl. Except for the fact that she drowned, was rescued by a ghost (who is now her best friend by the way) and can now step between the real world and the world of spirits by pulling back the Veil that separates the two. So yeah, pretty average right? When her parents start filming a new documentary about the world’s most haunted places, the family take a trip to Edinburgh to check out the scariest sites. Whilst there, Cass meets a girl who is just like her, and learns not only about her powers but sees firsthand what can happen when things go wrong too.
My Thoughts on the Characters
I loved Cass as a protagonist. While she’s getting up to all sorts of ghostly mischief, we never lose sight of the fact that really she’s just a 12 year old girl with an unlikely power who really just enjoys reading comics and spending time with her best friend, family and their cat Grim. Huge shout out to Grim by the way, the sassiest of cats.
Jacob was also a really interesting character and I truly loved the relationship between himself and Cass. They both have their own individual traits, Cass being eager to jump head first into the Veil and Jacob being a little more cautious, that really compliment one another. They’re both fiercely loyal though and would do anything for each other, as their rules of friendship dictate!
My Thoughts on the Plot
I loved reading about all the well known sites in Edinburgh, particularly as I was visiting them that weekend. The atmosphere that Victoria created in this book was almost tangible; I felt as though I was walking the misty streets of the Scottish city right alongside Cass and Jacob. After seeing what they get up to I’m glad I wasn’t though!
Despite this book being intended for middle grade readers, I never felt for one moment that the writing was any less impactful than some of V’s other books aimed at older audiences. Similarly the plot wasn’t just a simple one issue and one resolution kind of thing either. There were many layers woven into the story with several conflicts occurring at the same time, with some carrying over into future books. Sure this book contains no mature themes or swearing for example, but it was an enjoyable and excitable read nonetheless.
The story was engaging from start to finish, with creepy moments scattered in with the fantastical and informative. Not only do I love this as an adult, but I would have loved City of Ghosts when I was younger too! Admittedly I may have been a little scared by the darker moments but I would have lapped them up as much then as I did now.
The perfect combination of dark, mysterious and exciting, peppered with lighter moments of reprieve with Cass and her family, City of Ghosts may be one of my favourite Victoria (V.E) Schwab books to date, sitting at 4.5/5 stars.
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