City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


Goodreads: City of Ghosts
Series: Cassidy Blake #1
Source: Library
Publication Date: 2018


Cassidy Blake’s parents hunt ghosts.  But Cassidy is actually able to see them, ever since the moment she drowned and a ghost named Jacob dragged her back.  Now her parents are off to Edinburgh, Scotland, to film a ghost show.  But an evil spirit haunts the city and she’s determined to steal Cassidy’s life.

Star Divider


City of Ghosts is a pretty standard supernatural middle-grade story.  The characters are not particularly developed and the concept is not particularly original.  Rather, the story seems to rely on the travel aspect, combined with ghosts, to keep readers interested.  Readers new to this type of story will likely enjoy it more than those who have read their fair share of books featuring ghosts as best friends.

The problem with reviewing City of Ghosts is simply that it is not a very memorable story.  The idea of having a protagonist who has a ghostly friend and who fights other, evil ghosts is not exactly novel.  So City of Ghosts  faced the dilemma of making itself stand out from any other number of supernatural books.  However, it largely fails to do this–probably because Cassidy and her friend Jacob are barely fleshed out as characters.  They cannot bring a unique flavor to the tale because they really feel like they could be any character.  Who they are is not important to the story.  What matters seems to be simply that they can go through the motions to make the plot happen.

The plot, however, is really standard.  Cassidy can see ghosts and, while sightseeing, she stumbles upon a particularly nasty one who wants to steal her life force to gain power and do evil ghostly things.   This is the basic premise of a good number of ghost stories.  With no new angles and no interesting characters, it’s really just kind of nice.  A nice way to pass the evening reading.  A nice choice for a spooky fall read.  A nice middle-grade novel.  But it’s not going to end up on many “best of” lists.

If you’re looking for a middle-grade story featuring ghosts, this will suit your needs.  It has the added benefit of not being particularly scary, if that is what you want.  However, it lacks any real “wow” factor, so, if you are choosing between this and another supernatural title, the other title just might be the better bet.

3 Stars

11 thoughts on “City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

  1. whimsicalmama says:

    Awh, I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it thoroughly! 😕 I can def agree with some of your points. I enjoyed it for a middle grade novel, I didn’t expect anything WOWing about it, but I did enjoy it. Are you going to pick up the sequel?


  2. Jennifer says:

    I tried listening to this on as an audiobook and it failed to suck me in. I wondered at the time if it was the format or the content, but your review makes me think I was right in feeling that it wouldn’t really pick up.


  3. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    Man, it seems like this is the problem I find more and more reading midgrade. It’s sometimes hard to find something that has that wow factor, even when I lower my expectations knowing it’s for younger kids. I sshould be reading this one soon, and I don’t read too many ghost stories, so hopefully this might stand out a bit more for me.


    • Krysta says:

      I think that when you have so many books published every year, some are bound to not be terribly original or amazing. I’d love for every book I read to be five stars, though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

        That’s sort of true, though I’m not sure how some writers manage it? Like I feel like it’s always a new experience going into Sanderson’s work (though I’ve not read them all, so maybe that’ll change lol) and it just makes me wonder how they do it. xD

        I think that’s the ultimate dream, isn’t it? Not a particularly realistic one, but we’re nothing if not wild optimists when it comes to books lol.


  4. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Yeah this felt a bit standard for me too. The characters didn’t feel developed to me either and the concept wasn’t original (it didn’t help that the travel aspect wasn’t so thrilling for me, since I’ve lived in Edinburgh and didn’t feel like there was much to the descriptions to bring it to life, beyond naming streets). I didn’t have much to say about it either, cos I agree that it wasn’t that memorable. Great review!


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