Review: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

Review: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

 

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Title: Tunnel of Bones

Author: Victoria Schwab

Pages: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2019

Source: Early Finished Copy (Thanks to Scholastic!)

Rating: ★★★★


Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.


Tunnel of Bones is the sequel to Victoria’s debut children novel, City of Ghosts. Like the first book in this series, which I reviewed here, it follows Cassidy Blake, a girl who almost died once and can now cross the veil between the living and ghosts.

When I finished City of Ghosts last year, I was already excited for the sequel. I rarely read children’s books, so this was a little bit of a surprise to me but if a book or author is good, then who am I to stop myself from reading what I enjoy?

Unlike City of Ghosts, which is set in Edinburgh, Tunnel of Bones follows the Blake family to Paris which is a perfect setting for a ghostly book. Paris is a place full of so much history with plenty of ghosts, I’m sure. Just take the Catacombs for example! I thought that the book being set here was really cool, plus there is a map at the front of the book pointing out important places in the city. What I loved about this book being set in Paris was that it reminded me so much of my own trip to the city two years ago.

The plot of this was really easy to follow and very fast paced. It was full of action and was quite tense at times, but really gripped me the whole way through, so much so that I didn’t want to put it down! In all honesty, you could probably read this book in about 3-4 hours based on how quick it is, plus it has the larger font as most children’s books have!

img_0524In terms of the characters, we are back with the same characters from the first book, with the introduction of some new ones including a few ghosts! Of course, these books are about ghosts but this one was different to the previous books in terms of it’s creepiness. What I found with this book is that we got to know the characters a little better as we’re spending a bit more time with them. I liked following Cassidy on her adventures through Paris and think that she is quite a likeable character.

I would say this book is aimed at older children, I wouldn’t recommend reading this to say, a 5 or 6 year old in case it freaks them out. At the age of 24, even I was a little creeped out at times, but then I am scared of ghosts (I’m on the fence about whether they exist or not). I think if a book has an ability to really make you feel affected by its content, like me being creeped out at times, then it’s definitely a good one.

Final Thoughts

Tunnel of Bones was a really great sequel to City of Ghosts and I’d fully recommend picking it up, especially as the spooky season is approaching us! Both books are incredibly fast reads due to their quick pace so if you haven’t picked up the first one yet, I’d suggest doing that but also reading them back to back!

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The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

 

Title: The Surface Breaks

Author: Louise O’Neill

Pages: 320

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2018

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★


Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice?


This book was not exactly what I was expecting. Opening with that line for a review can only go one of two ways. Either I was pleasantly surprised, or I wasn’t. The thing is, I don’t actually know which one it is out of those two.

The cover for this book is extremely pretty and slightly gives off a more middle grade fantasy retelling. That is the kind of thing that I was expecting, a book between middle grade and young adult. Well, I can safely say that this book definitely is not for middle grade readers (ie. children) as the pretty cover may slightly suggest. There are darker themes that are explored in this book which some readers may find harmful, such as emotional, physical and sexual abuse. There are also themes of physical self discovery.

I thought that the writing in this one was ok. I wasn’t totally blown away by it. When I read, I am always very driven forward by dialogue and this book had plenty of that. This did keep my attention, but I did feel that I got to some parts of the book and I just wanted a little bit more to keep my interest at its peak.

I found some of the characters to be quite annoying – one of the main characters, Oliver, was insufferable at times and only thought about himself. In fact, all of the men in this book were insufferable apart from perhaps one, called George. This book really does its job in showing the serious oppression of women in how they are seen below and less than men and that they are just there to look and be pretty for male attention and that if they don’t suit the ideal, they are cast out by society. Obviously this taps into something that women have actually experienced and still do all over the world. It’s incredibly frustrating to experience it but also to read about it.

The settings were easy to imagine as the writing was descriptive, but not too over the top. I felt that I was able to follow the story easily and quickly. With just over 300 pages, I knew that it would be a relatively quick read anyway. If a book has 300 pages or less, I feel like I tend to fly through them a lot faster!

I felt that there was a lot of jealousy in this book between the sisters and how they treated one another. The main character is plucky but I felt that she really fell for someone who was a bad person. She demonstrated so many emotions throughout from shame to fury, feeling defeated to coming back stronger and better. The main character really grew with the story as it progressed and I’m glad that we really got some character growth in this one. Her determination to find love was also the cause of her pain but she really did come out stronger for it.

In short, this book was not was I was expecting at all. It had mature content that I wasn’t anticipating, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it just threw me off completely. I was assuming that, due to the cover, it would be a relatively fluffy Little Mermaid retelling. I guess I’m perhaps thinking of the fluffy Disney movie whereas this book probably is more of a retelling of a different Little Mermaid that I don’t really know.

In regards to my feelings about the book, I sort of feel indifferent to it. I don’t feel that I was totally blown away by it, but I wouldn’t say I was disappointed by it. I just thought that it was ok, and so because of that, I have given it 3 stars.