Goodreads: Bridge of Souls
Series: Cassidy Blake #3
Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows … unless it’s the other way around?
Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while travelling for her parents’ TV show.
But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colourful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.
Cass takes on her most dangerous challenge yet…
I started the Cassidy Blake series with high hopes. A travel series with a supernatural twist? Sign me up! Unfortunately, however, I have found all three books to be perfectly capable, but also perfectly mediocre. Victoria Schwab does not really deliver anything new here, nor are the stories particularly creepy or even particularly evocative as travel narratives. They possess all the right ingredients, but somehow those ingredients never combine to make something memorable. Bridge of Souls suffers from the same issues apparent in the first two books–a standard plot combined with lackluster characterization–and ultimately fails to justify all the buildup given it by the previous installments in the series.
As the (presumably) final book in the trilogy, Bridge of Souls probably should also be the scariest. Despite the threat of Death itself, however, the book fails to deliver a plot that feels significantly sinister. Rather, the Emissary of Death appears to pop up at very convenient times. He is then evaded each time fairly easily by a young girl who does not know anything about what she is doing. One expects more from a being allegedly never before defeated by humans. The climax of the book does not really solve this problem. Rather, readers get a pretty confusing scene where the Emissary is evidently defeated by, well, (spoiler alert) falling into a river. Why this works is unclear, but the protagonists seem convince this is enough, so I guess readers are meant to be convinced, as well.
The other main plot point should have involved Jacob’s growing solidity, which as been hinted at several times throughout the series so far. However, even though readers might have expected a heart-wrenching scene in which Cass has to decide between keeping her best friend or unleashing unspecified but terrible effects upon the natural world, this does not happen. My best guess is that Schwab is leaving the series open for an expansion, so she did not want to deal with this problem in this book. However, as it is, the book simply ends with what can only be called a reset of the status quo, with nothing addressed and nothing resolved. This feels extremely unsatisfying, especially as Cass and Jacob’s relationship as so far been the strongest point of the series. Evading the necessary hard choices feels like a cop out.
The travel aspect of the series has had the potential to make the books stand out a little more than other similar titles. However, thus far Schwab has failed to engage meaningfully with this aspect. The scene setting often feels like a list of street names and tourist attractions, with a signature cultural dish thrown in for good measure. The books never really make me feel like I have been to the places described, or that I have a good sense of the people or culture. Perhaps it does not help that Cass spends most of her travel time chasing ghosts rather than interacting with the towns and their people, but I think a book that wants to be a travel narrative should evoke the feeling of a particular destination more than these books do.
Altogether, this series has been pretty lackluster. I have kept on reading with the hope that the books might improve, but the supernatural worldbuilding remains only semi-developed, while the characters failed to grow in this book, largely due to the authorial decision to avoid addressing the issue of Jacob’s growing solidity. Nothing about the series really stands out. Should a book four ever be released, I doubt I will be reading it. There are more gripping supernatural middle grade books out there.