Goodreads: Tunnel of Bones
Series: Cassidy Blake #2
Publication Date: 2019
Cass and Jacob continue their paranormal adventures as they leave Edinburgh and head off to Paris so Cass’s parents can continue filming their new ghost show. However, a dark spirit haunts the Catacombs and, if Cass cannot figure out a new way to defeat him, all of Paris will soon be in trouble.
Like City of Ghosts before it, Tunnel of Bones proves a largely uninspired middle-grade paranormal adventure, in which a girl befriends a ghost and then finds out it is her purpose to travel beyond the Veil in order to send restless spirits on. The concept of ghostly friendships has been a staple of middle-grade contemporaries for awhile, and the idea of ghost hunting is obviously very common, as well. To set her book apart, Victoria Schwab really needs something special–a new twist, an engrossing world, unbelievable characters. Schwab, however, does not deliver anything special. Tunnel of Bones is a pleasant, if unmemorable, middle-grade ghost story.
Part of what makes Tunnel of Bones so unmemorable to me is the lack of strong characterization. Readers have little sense of who Cass’s parents are, except that her dad is a skeptical historian and her mother is a believer. They exist mainly to take Cass with them around the globe so she can find new ghosts. Lara, Cass’s expert on paranormal affairs, comes to life a little more since she has an acerbic personality, but she exists largely to forward the plot, as well–she is literally just on speed dial to help Cass find new leads on ghosts. Secondary characters prove just as lackluster. In Tunnel of Bones, readers meet Pauline, a woman who says she does not believe, but who seems to fear ghosts nonetheless. This ought to have made her an interesting characters, but readers never receive her backstory and so never receive an opportunity to dig deeper into who she is and what makes her tick.
The one redeeming feature of the series so far has been the friendship between Cass and Jacob. Their dynamic is interesting because Cass says she feels strongly about their friendship, and this does seem to be the case. At the same time, however, she regularly ignores Jacob’s fears, his wants, and his advice because she believes she knows better and must do anything–even risk death–in order to fulfill her “purpose” and send ghosts on. (One can understand Jacob’s reluctance to accept such a purpose, since it suggests Cass ought to send him on, as well–something Lara repeatedly reminds Cass.) It is easy for Cass to ignore Jacob since he is a ghost and no one else can see or hear him. So it is fascinating to see Jacob’s loyalty to Cass regardless and his protectiveness of her.
I had hoped that the ending of Tunnel of Bones would lead into more of the drama surrounding Cass and Jacob’s friendship, and whether Cass should, indeed, send Jacob on. Instead, readers receive a rather boring set-up for the next book–boring because so vague that I can not be bothered to feel spooked by it. My only thought is that Schwab does not want to go too deeply into the Jacob issue yet in case there are more books than three to be written for the series. So, ho hum. Tunnel of Bones is a nice middle-grade book, but very standard and very uninspired. Younger readers not familiar with better books with the same concepts may enjoy it more.