An air of the paranormal
While not as dark as some of her other titles, City of Ghosts was haunting and mysterious. Throughout the book, Schwab uses very tactile and tangible descriptions that make the paranormal accessible and easy to visualize. The pull of the paranormal on Cassidy is described as a “tap-tap-tap” that she follows in order to find the veil between worlds and, in order to enter it, she pulls back an almost tangible curtain. The paranormal being presented in this way makes it very easy for reader of all ages to strongly visualize.
A love letter to Edinburgh
It’s really clear from the writing in this novel how much Schwab loves Edinburgh, Scotland. The descriptions are dripping with the magic of the city and reading them made me instantly wish I was there. During the story, Schwab also keeps the book accessible to young readers by incorporating small explanations of European and Scottish culture into the story. She never once looks down on her young readers but provides them with the information they need to enjoy a setting they may be unfamiliar with.
Strong friendships that hooked me
One of the highlights of this book is the strong relationship between the main character Cassidy and her ghost best friend Jacob. Their individual personalities and dynamic friendship make this book an absolute delight even during its intense moments. Just the concept of a ghost hunter having a ghost as a best friend is interesting enough, but Jacob’s story left threads of an ongoing plot that is definitely going to keep me reading the sequels as soon as they are released.
Bringing fantasy to the real world
Possibly my favorite thing about this book is that the paranormal was constantly presented as something believable. While Cassidy encounters many adults, including her father, who don’t believe in the paranormal, she also meets many adults in Edinburgh who believe in the city’s ghostly tales. One incredibly notable character, the Blake family’s guide Findley, continuously talks about the city and world with such an air of magic and belief that it makes the reader want to believe too. I honestly can’t think of anything more important in a middle grade story than leaving the reader with a sense that the world is a magical place and this book delivers just that.