I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!: A ‘City of Ghosts’ Book Review

“Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.”

I tackled this novel and Tunnel of Bones (RTC) before Victoria visited Tattered Covers for her book tour. I was not disappointed.

I never thought I’d be sucked into the MG world, but my first novel in many, many years was City of Ghost, and I can honestly say – I am ready for more!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format/Source: Hardcover

From GoodReads:
They’re here.
They’re watching.

Cass can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead.
When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh.

Here, graveyards, castles and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms.
But when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift”, she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil—and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined. 

“Stories have power,”
“So long as you believe them.”

The Book Dragon Breaks Down…..

Plot: ★★★★
World: ★★★★ ★
Writing: ★★★★★
Character Development: ★★★★

…the writing…..

I mean, it’s Schwab. Need I say more? But really Schwab is one of the few authors who can successfully write and create worlds for every age. It’s enchanting and powerful, and rarely ‘dumbed down’, regardless of the age. Schwab never fails to brings me into the world and plant me firmly inside.

One foot in winter and one in spring.

…the plot….

City of Ghosts follows Cassidy Blake and her parents as they travel around the world ghost hunting for their TV show. Cassidy’s parents aren’t the best paranormal sleuths around, but Cassie – they don’t leave the poor girl alone.
While they are filming the show, Cassidy begins to encounter a malicious spirit – causing harm to herself and those in the city. With the help of her best friend, who happens to be a ghost, and a new friend made in Edinburgh, Cassidy sets out to stop the spirit before it can stop her.

While Schwab is an excellent writer, City of Ghosts is a MG novel, and the plot shows it. That’s not to say it is a BAD plot or story, but it is written and voiced for a younger age level. This means that it will not be the complicated in depth plots that you are used to seeing from the queen of twistiness – but have no fear, there is definitely age appropriate twistiness within!

Set in the city of Edinburgh, the setting naturally adds to the ominous vibe. This helps the plot along, as there are odd events that happen around the city, many of which are embraced by their locals. Other than that, the plot progressed very slowly. I felt at times it was more about the friendship between Cassie and Jacob than the attempts to stop the Raven in Red.
The Raven in Red steals children’s souls to fuel her power, and in her own right, is scary as hell. The action happened in a quick chunk, which was slightly disappointing but over all, enjoyable.

I can truly say that Jacob kept me hooked til the very end. An event.. or conversation? I suppose.. that takes place towards the end of the book really confirmed some of my suspicions about Jacob, and I’m eager to see how his story unfolds in Tunnel of Bones and Bridges of Souls.

One foot with the living and one with
the dead.

...the characters…

Jacob is just a bundle of sarcastic joy. I utterly adored him! Jacob is Cassidy’s ghost best friend. Without spoiling anything, Jacob saved Cassidy – thus tying himself to her, and allowing him to live on her side of the veil. It was an interesting concept, and created an intricate and multilayered character. There is something about Jacob that just isn’t quite right, but Cassidy loves him and he thrives on that love. I did feel at times that Cassie really had blinders on when it came to his comments and attitudes, but that’s a typical reality of friendships. We do place blinders around ourselves when it comes to those we love dearly.

Then we have spunky little Cassidy! Cassidy is one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever met. A little bit weird, a little bit loner, with a bff that no one else could see. That sounds like something right out of my world. She’s constantly wandering off from her parents, even though they tell her not to – which makes parts of the novel comical as an adult. (I would have nailed my kid down by that point haha!)

Even though Cassie’s parents are not acutely present through the entire story, they are a steady presence throughout the novel and I really appreciated this. Too often we have kids that just magically have zero parental supervision, and while this may have been commonplace when I was a child, this is not common practice nowadays, and raise more questions than answers when they are nowhere to be found.

The last character I am going touch on is Lara. Lara was not my favorite person, but grew on me over the course of the novel. She was snobby and obnoxious, but she had information that Cassidy really needed, and was able to shed light on a certain ghost that doesn’t like to tell his secrets.

….final thoughts…

While the immediate book arc is very clearly the spirit haunting, I really fell for the series plot that began to take shape during the first half of the novel. I am very excited to where this overall arc goes, and I think that in the end it will be a much grander and more satisfying.


Once again Schwab has delighted us with a brilliantly crafted novel for the younger souls in our lives. City of Ghost is an atmospheric story of spirit hauntings, parent avoiding, and what friendship really means. Cassidy and Jacob give us a friendship to be envious of – forever protecting one and another. Readers of any age will love this adorable 5 star read!

About the Author:

Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “y’all.”

She also tells stories.

She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.