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 Near Witch by V. E. Schwab

 

Title: The Near Witch

Author: V. E. Schwab

Pages: 293

Publisher: Titan Books

Published: Re-release 2019 (Original release, 2011)

Source: Finished copy, gifted by the publisher (Thank you!)

Rating: ★★★★


The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.


‘It starts with a crack, a sputter, and a spark.’

I went into The Near Witch not really knowing too much about it except for the fact that it was a re-release and that it involved a witch but you know, it’s by V. E. Schwab so I was immediately interested.

There are some books that you just know you’re going to love or hate within the first few pages and with this one, I knew almost immediately that I was hooked within it’s grasp. It ended up taking me about four hours to The Near Witch as I read just under half of it on the way to Victoria’s Forbidden Planet signing in London and then the remainder of it on my train back home.

Thoughts

The Near Witch follows Lexi in the small village of Near, where everybody knows everyone. Lexi lives with her mother and sister after her father passed away. She carries her father close to her and he is a big influence on her throughout this book. I liked the character of Lexi. She is interested in gathering the facts but also is open minded and almost fearless. As children go missing in Near, she makes a decision to try and find them in her own way whilst trying to also avoid her Uncle, the protector of Near. Before the children go missing though, a stranger turns up in Near. There are never strangers in Near and this one comes at a time before all hell breaks loose.

The time that The Near Witch is set in is a strange one. It felt as if it was set in the 1600/1700s with the talk of witches, but then it also felt almost like it didn’t exist at any specific time at all. When writing this review, I also realised that the village of Near is just a place, it’s not specified that it’s any country which is interesting as you’re then just focused on the place itself. Near just exists.

The plot is fairly fast paced with plenty of mystery and intrigue that draws you in and doesn’t really let you back out until the end. I can vouch for this considering I read it in four hours. I though that the writing really contributed to the pace of the plot. The writing is different to but I feel it is still distinctively V’s. It’s descriptive meaning that you can really imagine the people and places quite vividly.

I think it’s difficult to compare it to V. E. Schwab’s more recent works as she has really developed as a writer in the past 8 years since The Near Witch was originally released. I was a bit wary going into this book that perhaps there was a reason The Near Witch didn’t do so well when it was originally released – was it because it wasn’t that great or was it simply because it wasn’t the right time for it to be released? However, upon reading it, I do think that it was just that timing wasn’t right. It is a quirky little book that might not work for everybody, but I liked it and thought that it was a fairly quick read.

Final Thoughts

Whilst I enjoyed this book and read it so quickly, I’m still hovering between 3.5 and 4 stars with this book. I should clarify that for me, a 3 star rating doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means that I liked the book. I enjoyed it and got through it quickly, but I didn’t love it and I probably won’t re-read it. I think it is a great book for September/October when Halloween is approaching and Autumn is starting to really set in.

One of the questions I have asked myself, when thinking about the rating, is if I’d have read this back in 2011 as a 15/16 year old, would I enjoy it? It’s hard to tell because my tastes are obviously a bit different to how they were 7/8 years ago but I do think I would have enjoyed this book back then too.

 

City of Ghosts by V. E. Schwab

 

Title: City of Ghosts

Author: V. E. Schwab

Pages: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2018

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★


When Cass’s family heads off to Edinburgh, Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift” of entering the world of the spirits. Cass still has a lot to learn about the Veil – and herself. And fast… 


I don’t tend to read Children’s books very much, mostly because my personal library of YA books is overflowing and there isn’t much room for anything else. However, when I heard that V. E. Schwab was writing a middle grade book, I was immediately interested. The premise of it sounded wonderfully spooky and the reactions to the story once ARCs were available were really positive.

I read the majority of this book in one sitting. I was instantly hooked upon reading the first chapter and despite my fear of ghosts (even though I don’t really believe they exist), I was eager to read more. Except I wasn’t going to read it at night, of course, so I had to put it down.

I pretty much finished this book in one sitting. It’s incredibly fast paced and with the larger font of children’s books, I just flew through it completely.

The story follows a girl called Cass who can see ghosts and can pass through the veil. Her story really starts though, when she is taken to Scotland with her parents for a work trip. Scotland is rich with history and so Cass finds herself surrounded by plenty of ghosts. On her trip, she finds out what her true calling is but it could lead to some consequences.

I really liked the characters in this one. I thought that Cass was a really likeable character. It did make me sad to think that some of the other kids at her school may have laughed at her for her strange abilities and that she didn’t have many friends because of this but I think that her pass off attitude was really great and I hope that other kids feel more inspired to be like that when people are mean to them. I also really like the character Jacob, who is Cass’ friend. I thought Cass’ parents were both likeable although I didn’t feel like we really got to know them in the story that well, other than the fact that they are both interested in the supernatural and

I loved the setting. I have never been to Edinburgh. In fact, I’ve never been to Scotland before so the map at the front was really helpful for me and I felt that I was really able to imagine the setting so much more.

I thought the style of writing was great. I mean, I may be a little biased because I do enjoy V. E. Schwab’s writing in adult books but I thought that her writing for Children translated really well. In Children’s books, some authors noticeably write for a much younger audience but I felt as though V. E. did a really great job of writing for Children in a way that I would’ve appreciated it when I was younger as it felt as though the writing wasn’t done in a childish way.

I really enjoyed this one and I hope that’s not the last we see of Cass and Jacob! I would definitely recommend this one for October as it fits in well for the Halloween theme of the month and it reads really quickly!