This was an all-nighter read but because the book is quite short at 285 pages it took me around three to five hours. That’s a wide range because I was doing a lot of other things within that time.
Anyway let’s get to it.
This is a Middle Grade book. And I don’t really like/read Middle Grade but it’s Victoria Schwab!!! It started off alright. I liked Cassidy, I liked Jacob. I actually liked all the characters.
We have Cassy who can see ghosts after she almost lost her life and her best friend, Jacob, who saved her life. She can move between our world and the world of the dead but she must be careful not to get stuck in their world. Not that she enjoys going into the world of the dead, but she just has a fascination with that world. Her parents are paranormal investigators who don’t really know much about the extent of her abilities. So the story starts proper when her parents decide to go to one of the most haunted locations for their TV show….. and she gets stuck but that’s just the beginning of the terrible things about to come.
But I have an issue with this book. The stakes aren’t high. Because there’s a build-up to the worse that can happen. And then it happens, but in the very next page, the characters know the solution so they move towards achieving that solution.
But this issue doesn’t bother me that much either because… it keeps the book short and not redundantly draggy. But I would’ve loved to see the characters struggling to find a solution.
I thought the horror element was well written. It’s all middle grade and then all of a sudden it gives ‘oh… probably shouldn’t be reading this at night’ kinda vibes with the intro of the main spirit. But all good, not over the top scary.
I thought it captured parent-child relationship quite well too. I liked that aspect of the book – what Cassy thinks of her parents, of her life.
[I forgot to add: I actually like the light humour of the characters in this book. Jacob’s sarcasm is appreciated.]
As usual, Victoria Schwab’s writing style is easy to follow.
I think it set up for the second book well. We know who’s going to be the main villain in the next one. I’m looking at you Jacob.
Other issues on Goodreads reviews:
Too much explanation – The difference in the terms used in British English and American English for the same things are very blatantly explained in the book. For eg. Chips Vs Fries VS Crisps Vs biscuits(?). I think it’s fine to me. The character is finding things out for herself so it’s okay.
Took a while to get into the story – Yes. Yes. It did. The main villain spirit appears at Pg 85 and then slips out of focus until pg 200+/-. Other activities happen in between but somehow not as life-threatening. Like the set-up to each problem is good but it gets solved fairly easily. Not that it doesn’t work, it just feels less. Okay but less than what I would like. And we also have other characters being introduced and it’s fine.
The Harry Potter references – oh were there a lot. Usually I don’t like books that reference other books because what if I never read those books? Harry Potter is a world I know of and I will let it slide because the narrator of this book is Cassy herself and being a kid, I get that she’d reference her favourite thing when describing architecture. It’s fine.
Not enough depth? – Plot wise, yea. I guess it could have gone a lot more deeper and darker but that would mean longer and I think it’s good to have a short book for Middle Grade novels.
Read. If you like Middle Grade. Or if you’re looking for an easy-to-get-through short book.