⇒October is the BEST time to read all the horror/thriller books on your shelves! I started my Spooky Reads reading list off with Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts!⇐
Published August 28, 2018, by Scholastic
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Middle Grades
… I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.
October is my absolute favorite month of the year for several reasons: One, because it’s my birthday month (cue the confetti 🎉), two because it’s the start of fall, and three because (and this is the most important reason) it’s time for HALLOWEEN!!!
I can’t explain how Halloween became my favorite holiday, but it is. The costumes, the weird traditions, the costumes, the excuse to eat loads of candy, and, oh, did I mention the costumes?!?!? Any holiday that gives you an excuse to wear over-the-top makeup and a hideous wig (and get away with it) is a great holiday.
And because of Halloween, October is the perfect time of year to get settled in a mostly dark room, grab a warm blanket, and sink into a torturously frightful book!
I have one foot in winter and one in spring. One foot with the living, and one with the dead.
To kick off my Spooky Reads TBR list this week, I decided to tiptoe into the scary stuff, so I chose Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts. My daughter – who is also named Cassidy – recently received this book in her Owlcrate Jr. subscription box, so I took advantage. Ok, ok, I took advantage only after begging her to let me borrow it and offering her a nutty bar for dessert).
First, I have to say that the cover is amazing! It displays the atmosphere of the story perfectly! Covers can often fool you by being so much more interesting than the book itself turns out to be, but this cover was truly representative of a captivating story.
… what you don’t see is always scarier than what you do.
Here’s the synopsis from the cover:
Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead… and enter the world of spirits. her best friend is even a ghost.
So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.
When Cass’s parents land a gig hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets another 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.
Maybe the world is even stranger than I know.
Schwab’s City of Ghosts moves at a great pace. Since this is a series, this first book gives us just enough background to figure out what we’re doing here and why we’re able to see dead people while still leaving enough unknown to keep the sense of discovery alive for future books in the series.
During all this introduction, we meet vibrantly rich characters (living and dead!). Cassidy herself is very relatable in every weird way possible. I mean, how “normal” can you be when you almost die, your best friend is a ghost, and you’re able to walk on the other side of reality? If Cass were a person irl, I’m sure we’d be friends.
And the setting is SO atmospheric! Rainy gray skies, graveyards, abandoned prisons, and dark cobblestoned streets – Edinburgh becomes an extra character that threatens to steal every scene! You can almost hear the Red Raven’s haunting song in the background as you read (shiver!).
This book was the perfect amount of spooky to kick off my month of scary lit. It’s going to be a great read for my 10-year-old (after I give the book back to her) and I love that we’ll be able to talk about it together. There are some thrilling moments: the introduction of the Red Raven, the “empty children”, etc., but nothing extremely horrifying or gruesome. Personally, I thought Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak was much scarier!
…ghosts are everywhere.
Four spooky stars for this atmospheric ghost story that had all the elements of a book that’s perfect for the season. Recommendation: grab your middle-grader and a flashlight and settle in for pleasantly spooky read. Oh, and keep a mirror nearby!
Keep your eyes open for future installments in the series. Cassidy’s parents host the TV show, The Inspecters (get it? Specters, like ghosts?), so they’ll be traveling to different haunted locations and no doubt taking Cassidy (and Jacob) along with them. And we’ll be able to see if Cass learns to hone her skills for handling what’s on the other side of the Veil.
About the Author
Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”
(Bio from V.E. Schwab’s website)