City of Ghosts cover Victoria Schwab V. E. Schwab middle grade book horror kidlit review children's books

KidLit Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


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 start 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 a 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.


  • Title: City of Ghosts
  • Series: Cassidy Blake Series, Book 1
  • Author: Victoria Schwab
  • Cover Artist: Baily Crawford
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
  • ISBN: 1338111000
  • Publication Date: August 28, 2018
  • For Ages: 9-12
  • Category: Middle Grade
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? ☠️ Scary.

I’d like to thank Scholastic Press for providing an advance copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. (Note: All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release.)


Cassidy Blake is a girl caught between worlds, not quite living and not quite dead. She drowned in an icy river but was brought back to life; when she returned, she was “damaged, but not ruined, changed, but not destroyed.” Now that she’s come back from the other side, Cass can travel freely between our world and the world of the spirits, though she’s not sure what good it does her, other than helping her talk to her ghostly best friend Jacob.

Cass’s parents are famous ghost hunters called the Inspecters (bless Victoria Schwab, because I do love a good pun), but neither one has the “gift” that she has. Cass’s father is the skeptic and her mother is the believer, though Cass has her doubts on that: “I don’t know if Mom really believes in ghosts, or if she just wants to believe because it makes the world more interesting.” Let me tell you, I have never felt more called out by a ghost story than I did when reading that line.

I was hooked from the very first word. Schwab’s writing is beautiful, and Cass is a likable, engaging narrator. There wasn’t a single moment when I wasn’t riveted as soon as I received notification that my ARC request had been approved, I downloaded the book and gobbled it up as fast as I could and the story really gets going once the Inspecters decide to take a trip to Edinburgh to film a TV show on the world’s most haunted places. Schwab’s evocative descriptions of the beauty and history of Edinburgh made me long to visit so I could go on a ghost tour myself, but the story was so creepy that I was happy to stay home and experience it vicariously instead.

Cass has several spooky encounters in this city of ghosts, but she meets one spirit in particular who is so terrifying and so nightmarishly vivid that I haven’t been able to shake the images from my head. In a book filled with incredible characters, this one is Schwab’s most frightening creation. Like all the best ghost stories, the tale of this spirit feels like something you may have heard before….until that sharp chill down your spine tells you that this is something entirely new.

City of Ghosts is a chilling, riveting start to an exciting new middle grade series. It will satisfy horror fans of all ages who appreciate a well-told ghost story, and it will have readers (namely, me) clamoring for the next book in the series. Victoria Schwab perfectly captures the sense of being caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and she makes you want to stay in the Veil with her for as long as you can.


I need Book 2 immediately. I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.

5 Coffins


  1. This is actually my first Victoria Schwab book! I have Vicious on my Kindle, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’d love to know what you think of this one once you read it!


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