Book Reviews, YA Book Club for Writers

Book Club 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.

Our thoughts about this book:

Yay! We found a winner! A book we recommend!

It’s a bit ironic when we have a book we all like because the discussion becomes a bit more short and simple. As much as I love find a book we like, the off shoot of that is a calmer, shorter book club meeting (currently happening over Zoom.) Where as it’s grueling to read a book we don’t like, but the meeting discussions are so much more passionate!

So, yeah, we liked City of Ghosts. The characters were well developed, the setting and world building were outstanding, and so many elements of this ghost story were unique.

We liked the characters. Cassidy, the main character was smart and down to earth. Lara, we felt was a bit angsty and maybe the most difficult to like of them all as her attitude seemed misplaced, but she was an important character to the story. Jacob was like a lost puppy and you couldn’t help but like him. And although you don’t like the villain of the story, you’re not supposed to, but she was quite an amazing character.

Cassidy’s parents, although a bit eccentric, where “functional” as opposed to the ever present dysfunctionality that we’ve had over so many stories this year. The story was about Cassidy and her ghost friend, Jacob and about discovering Cassidy’s ability to cross the “veil” and interact with ghosts. Her parents stayed in the background, not interfering with Cassidy’s story and that was as it should be. Refreshing.

We couldn’t say enough about the setting and world development. Schwab used existing streets and buildings, besides the ever-popular Edinburgh Castle, to set her story against a true life backdrop. You could tell she’s been there herself and was able to bring the city to life.

What we didn’t like… only one thing really, the over use of Harry Potter references. Obviously, Cassidy is a Harry Potter fan, but it became a bit much. Was it to try to get more sales for this book? Was it because Rowling wrote the book in a shop mentioned in the book? Apparently, there is a large Harry Potter audience in Edinburgh because Rowling lived there… but still…. it popped us out of the story. For that reason, pop culture in books isn’t recommended. It also dates a story, meaning it can go out of date with readers.

Schwab used some truly unique details in her story. The crossing of the veil to go into a world of ghosts and also use of an inner chord of light to represent a human life (I won’t give away too much on that…) but these were some really great ideas that helped make this a unique ghost story.

Schwab also left just enough details hanging to make a reader want to move on to book two in the series…


This is an unsolicited review. I purchased my copy for Kindle at

  • Paperback : 320 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1338111026
  • Publisher : Scholastic Press; Reprint edition (Sept. 3 2019)

2 thoughts on “Book Club Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab”

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