City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Summary from Goodreads:
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 a little nervous that this would be a little dark for middle-graders, but fortunately it is just the right mix of scary and fun. It was a great read and I can’t wait to share it with my students.
There was a lot about this book that I liked,
- A ghost best friend
- It is set in Edinburgh, Scotland
- Quirky parents who obviously love their daughter very much
- A scary ghost
- Some friendly ghosts and some very sad ones.
- Lots of Harry Potter references
- An awesome cover that will make it easy to sell to kids
Cass is a wonderful main character. She is twelve and a bit of a loner. Partly that is just who she is, but also she finds herself not wanting others to know about her parents. I think she was a bit of a loner even before her near death experience, but that just made it harder for her to make friends. She loves photography, and not the digital kind. She uses film and we get to see how that is developed, which was awesome. She also loves Harry Potter and is definitely a Gryffindor.
Jacob, Cass’s best friend, was also a delightful character. Although there are some things he obviously is keeping from Cass about being a ghost and about the In-between. I really think that he keeps things from her out of love and friendship and because he doesn’t want to loose her. Jacob was also good for some lightness in the story, he is something of a comedian and always has a fun remark for most of occasions.
Lara, a Ravenclaw, is also a solid character and I hope she continues to show up in the series. She is like Cass in that she can see ghosts and go to the In-between, but she can also dispel the ghosts. In other words, send them on. She is the one who helps Cass the most in understanding who she is and what she should be doing with her ability. She lives in Edinburgh, so I’m not sure where her character will fit in as the series progresses. But she is definitely a good influence on Cass and a possible friend in the future.
The plot was wonderful, full of ghosts and hauntings. I had no idea that there were so many haunted places in Edinburgh. Lots of spooky underground trips and of course the Red Raven was a very nasty ghost that fit into the story well. She is similar to other ghosts that I have heard of, wailing women who steal children. I also liked the way that Lara and Cass dispel the ghosts, or send them on. This is different than anything that I’ve seen before. But a wonderful use of Cass’s love of photography.
A wonderfully done ghost story. It is perfect for those middle graders wanting something spooky but not too scary. I am certainly hoping that there will be many books in this series.