City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1), by Victoria Schwab
Publish Date: August 28, 2018
Published by: Scholastic Press
Genre: MG Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received an ARC of this from the publisher at BookCon 2018 in return for an honest review.**
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.
Being a fan of V.E. Schwab’s other books, when I heard that she was working on a middle grade novel about ghosts, I knew I had to read it. This book was a fun and suspenseful read, full of some interesting characters and world-building, and a wonderful story about friendship and ghosts.
I will say the beginning of the book had me feeling a little less enthused about it than I would have liked. It came off being very “let me explain this to you” and pretty much most of the world-building came out then. But once we moved past that and got on with the story, things definitely got more interesting and it was easier to enjoy the read. The plot it fast-paced and easy to follow, with lots of ghostly moments that aren’t too scary, but still leave a chill down the spine. And there is some great mystery as well, as Cassidy discovers more about her abilities and what her purpose is supposed to be.
I think the best part of the plot was Cassidy’s friendship with Jacob, and how important and strong it was to both her and the story. I adored how much they cared about each other, and how despite certain risks, were always there for each other no matter what. Cassidy as a character is headstrong and determined, despite her own fears and worries, and her growth throughout the novel was subtle and interesting. I liked the introduction of Lara as a somewhat antithesis of her, creating a strong balance of personalities in the story. I will say Lara came off a little hotheaded herself, and I thought her change in disposition towards Jacob (and Jacob’s toward her) felt a little quick, but I think there is still enough room for growth there.
Overall, this was a quick and interesting read, with a very unique type of ghost-seeing. I enjoyed the friendship between Cassidy and Jacob most of all, and the plot was definitely a fun and exciting read. Despite its slow and somewhat clunky start, the overall effect of the book was definitely one of suspense, ghostly chills and heartwarming friendships.