Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

On the rare occasion I will read a Middle Grade book, and 9 out of 10 times, I will really enjoy it. With YA novels, the chances are usually as low as 3 out of 10, so it makes me wonder why I don’t read more Middle Grade books.

Anyway, I spotted this book a while ago on Goodreads, and immediately was interested in reading it. And, finally, several months after it’s actual release, I did it!

Release: August 28, 2018

Synopsis: Cassidy Blake can see ghosts. She has since a year ago, when she nearly drowned in an icy river and was saved by a ghost named Jacob. This is ironic, considering that her parents are “ghost-hunters.” When they head to Edinburgh, Scotland, to film their new tv show, Cassidy realizes that there is so much more to her ability than simply seeing ghosts. And she’s not the only one who recognizes her power as the evil ghost whom as the Red Raven haunts the city trying to suck out her life.


This is such a fun, but surprisingly dark book. While the plot is simplistic, the mood of this book is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It exudes creepiness and Cassidy as a likeable protagonist. The pacing is perfect, the ghostly world is interesting, and the characters are surprising. While I felt the world could have been explained more thoroughly, this is only the first book of the series, so perhaps we’ll learn more in the next books.

One of my favorite parts of this book was that it was set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and many of the places the characters travel to in the book are real, supposedly haunted places in the city, like Edinburgh Castle and Mary King’s Close. While the setting isn’t extremely lush, that’s probably because most children’s books tend to be minimalistic.

One of the best parts of this book is the friendship between Cassidy and Jacob. While one is human and the other a ghost, they surprisingly make a perfect team. It also makes for an interesting premise for a book series, a ghost-hunting duo comprised of a ghost and a human.

Before I get to the next part, I’m giving a tentative Spoiler Warning! It’s nothing major, but it’s more of how the ghostly world works, which is explained throughout the book.

Now let’s get to the most confusing part: the Veil. So, in this book, there was the real world, and then what Cassidy and Jacob called “the Veil,” which was the place where the ghosts are. Because Cassidy nearly died, she can cross over, as can Lara, another girl they meet who has Cassidy’s same ability. As the story continues, it’s explained that the reason Jacob is in this world (though only Cassidy and Lara can see him) is because he saved Cassidy and was pulled back with her to our world from the Veil. Now they are connected, so because she can travel between worlds so can he and if she gets stuck in the Veil so does he.

Cassidy can go into the Veil, which is like a ghostly version of our world, where you can walk down the same street but see some ghosts reliving their deaths. But then some ghosts are just going around their everyday lives. So how does that work? Also, how does no one in the real world notice when Cassidy just vanishes into the Veil? No one is that oblivious. And within the Veil Cassidy can hear voices from the real world, but why can’t they in turn hear her?

My basic point is that the Veil is never really explained. Again, it’s only the first book of the series, so I will assume that it will be explained more later.

The only other criticism I had with the book was the technology, or the lack of. This book was published in 2018, and nothing in the book makes me assume it’s not set in the modern day. But then people are still using email, no one has an Ipad or a laptop, and even Cassidy doesn’t have a phone until her father gives her one for emergancies. There’s no hint of Facebook, Twitter, anything. This makes me suspect that this book might be set in the early 2000s instead of modern day. But this is rather a small gripe.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is a fun mystery bordering on horror and extremely atmospheric. I have every intention of reading the sequel when it is released.

Have you read this book or heard of it? What are your thoughts on middle grade books in general? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more adventure and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

7 thoughts on “Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

  1. I totally get hooked on this book by reading your review! The world the author build in the book is fancinating and mysterious, though there’s a lot unexplained.

    The ghost-hunting duo sounds fantastic! I always love it when two group of people who are considered enemies or completely different end up having great friendship and cooperating. I love the idea that stereotype is broken~

    Liked by 1 person

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