Book Review – City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

Blogland! My reading is picking up as the year draws to a close, as is tradition. I’m too competitive not to make a mad dash for my Goodreads Challenge goal, no matter how far behind I am.

City of Ghosts was not on my radar at all until quite recently. I discovered V.E. Schwab this year when a migraine struck and I listened to the A Darker Shade of Magic audiobook. The next two weeks had me feverishly consuming the sequels and adding any and all of her books to my TBR. But somehow, this book got missed.

Then I saw it on the shelf of my school library’s YA section and had a minor heart attack. I bought the audiobook with an audible credit and listened to it in two sittings. I have zero regrets.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

city of ghosts

Cassidy Blake is eleven years old and like a lot of only children, she has an invisible friend. The difference is that Jacob is very, very real. He’s just a ghost! After she fell in an icy river and quite literally died, Jacob saved her and brought her back to the land of the living. They’ve been inseparable ever since, and Cassidy has been able to cross the “Veil” to the land of ghosts, where she explores and takes creepy photographs of the beyond.

It’s all innocent fun until her parents announce they’re starring in a new show, The Inspectres, where they travel the world and investigate haunted cities. The traveling bit sounds cool, but the haunted bits sound… problematic. Especially since, out of her whole family, she’s the only one who’s ever actually seen a ghost.

So off to Scotland they go, with Jacob and the cat, Grim, in tow.

What I loved:

  • I loved the characters. I know, what a surprise, right? But, man, Victoria Schwab writes people so so well. I loved Cassidy’s wry humor and her affection for Jacob. I love Jacob, his nervousness, his timidity, and his sarcastic banter with Cassidy. I loved that Cassidy has a good relationship with her parents and that they seem to really love one another. I thought the whole family dynamic was super believable, especially since I was an only child, at least until I was almost 16.
  • The setting! I’ve always entertained the idea of visiting Scotland, but don’t really know much about the country, or of Edinburgh. Schwab’s descriptions really struck me. I’d love to see the city and the castle and absorb the general vibes of the place. So, thanks for that Schwab.
  • The narration! Reba Buhr read the book and did a fantastic job. I’ve read enough of Schwab now to recognize her writing no matter who’s reading, but I liked the voices and accents she did. It really helped me get immersed in the story.

What I didn’t love:

  • Um… it was a bit lower level than I’m used to reading. That’s not really a problem with the book, it just left me wanting more. The plot was largely predictable, but still good. I just wasn’t as engaged with the material as I would have been with an older Teen or Adult story.
  • I didn’t super like Laura. She felt sort of forced and I can’t really say how or why. I kept waiting for her to be the bad guy, and she wasn’t, so maybe that had something to do with it.

I love Victoria (V.E.) Schwab and this book is no exception. Not necessarily her best, but I’m also not the target audience. For middle school-aged me, it would have been an instant favorite.

There is a sequel, which I’ve already downloaded on audible, but I’m… hesitant. Ok, really talk, the sequel is called Tunnel of Bones and is set in Paris. They are FOR SURE going into the catacombs and… I can’t. Like, just the idea of the catacombs makes my heart race. Creepy, underground tunnels are a major fear of mine. Dunno why but just thinking about them makes me break out in a nervous sweat.

So, yeah. Might have to take it slow with that one.

I finished Gideon the Ninth and started reading Vengeful tonight. Lots of reading and a little writing. Life is good.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Book Review – Ghost Story (Dresden Files #13) by Jim Butcher

I almost forgot about this book review. I was so excited that I finished reading The Stone Sky and Dark Deeds that I was going to write both of those instead. Depending on how the week goes, I still might.

ghost story

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

This book was probably my least favorite Dresden book so far. That makes it sound like a bad book, which I don’t think is actually fair. It is not a bad book. In fact, as far as action, plot, and character development are concerned, it’s a really good book. But, by the end, I found myself asking, was it really necessary?

I mean, it was good to see Dresden finally realize the ramifications of his actions, to see how much his decisions (good or bad) affect the people around him. I did not like seeing Murph, Molly, and Thomas in their various states throughout this book, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary for Dresden nor good for the story.

It was also nice to see Mort again, reunite with some old faves like Butters and the Alphas, and meet new folks like Sir Stewart and Daniel Carpenter. There were some interesting viewpoints explored and some good character development that might not have happened otherwise.

But overall this book just left me with a big old question mark over my head. Was this really necessary? Did anything in this book matter to what came before? Will it matter to what comes after? I’m unsure. I’ve started Cold Days, but just barely, so there’s nothing to report on that front.

I think what made this book so difficult for me is that, despite the Dresden first person POV, this book wasn’t really about Harry. It was about his friends and allies, all characters I love, but am unused to having such a priority in the narrative.

I should mention that I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. It was a good story, and I’m always happy to be in Dresden’s world, especially if James Marsters is narrating it. I had to join Audible to get the Marsters version, because the original recording was with a different voice actor. There was no way, after twelve books with Marsters’ fantastic readings, that I could listen to somebody else pretend to be Dresden. To me, it was worth the effort to sign up and get the 30-day trial.

By now you’ve probably noticed that I am avoiding any concrete details in this review. That’s because this book is one great big spoiler. I will do my best, going forward, to keep spoilers in my reviews from being too egregious. I don’t want to accidentally ruin anything for anyone, especially in a series this long. It’s a lot of time and dedication to read/listen to all of these books. I refuse to be the person that let’s the cat out of the proverbial bag.

Later this week I’ll post the review for The Stone Sky. If all goes well with my goals for the week, I might post the Dark Deeds review. If not, it’ll get slated for next week.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ