City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
ARC provided by Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. Yes, I stood in line at Yallwest to get this one— No Regrets.
But the real question is how does one review City of Ghosts? If you’ve been following long enough, you know if a book doesn’t have stickies it means one of two things: I either loved it, or I hated it. Can you guess what I thought of City of Ghosts? Or maybe this will put it into perspective: I read it as fast as Legendary. (And yes I know I haven’t reviewed that glorious book yet, but fret not, I will soon!) Back to City of Ghosts; there are no stickies, there are no notes, there are no words. I have no clue how to review it. *HELP!
All jokes aside, I have a story for you. Middle Grade me was bribed with candy to read books. I hated reading that much as a child. Now, if I’d had City of Ghosts… it would be a very different story. It’s books like this that gives hope to the 10 year old inside of me; that now there is a market for the adventurers, the dreamers, the young people who wish for something extraordinary. And for the ones who absolutely despised having to read and do book reports because they’re going to be held back on account for their dismal approval rating in reading and writing. * but that’s a side rant for another day.
Victoria Schwab taps into something that’s hard to put into words, it’s a feeling, a sense of belonging and unbelonging that every child goes through as they begin to search for their purpose. There’s something in Cassidy that I think every child, and adult, can relate to; asking what if, that pull to something otherworldly that we try to catch hold of and understand. Now, I keep seeing City of Ghosts being classified as MG horror – and everyone single reader should know I don’t do horror; like, not even a little. * I almost gave up on Gemina because of creepy horror related stuff * For a Middle Grader, I think City of Ghosts has the perfect amount of creepy/spookiness to it, enough to keep you on edge and questioning what comes next. There was never a moment I felt truly terrified, granted it makes you uneasy, but that’s the point.
The Prose! Give Victoria Schwab any genre, and age, and she will make you envious of how she wields the English language. Beautifully crafted. That’s all I have to say. Reading made me feel like I could be in Edinburgh, amongst the ghosts and hidden streets, and I think 10 year old me would have been grateful in the summer heat for that.
I do have one problem: but it’s not with this book, it’s with the reviews I keep seeing. Let me say this loud and clear— THIS IS A MIDDLE GRADE BOOK! There. I said it. This is not YA or adult like Victoria has written before, and we should stop comparing it to those works. City of Ghosts is perfect for its audience. The plot is engaging, and yes, it’s wrapped up quickly at the end but the book is only 300~ish pages long, and WE GET A SEQUEL!!!! I should also mention that the bulk of those 300 pages are spent exploring Cassidy and Jacob’s relationship, and the city of Edinburgh, and the Veil… There is a jam-packed plot woven through every page, but it’s the slow burning reveal and tension that brings everything to a climax at the end. If you are not a fan of tension and a slow build, then this book is not for you. I however, love the slow build (I will do a post on slow build tension at a later date)
Maybe I’ve said everything I can about this book? Maybe I’ll come back in a few days and add some more? What I can say is City of Ghosts is by far one of the best Middle Grade books I have ever read and I am so excited to see where Cassidy and Jacob (alright, and Grim) go next! If you know an ornery Middle Grader who hates reading, hand them this and watch a whole new world open up (10 year old Camille would have appreciated it). Or if you know a Middle Grader who likes ghosts, or adventure, or Scotland, they’d probably like this too.
Beware of the ghosts,
The Literary Empress