City of Ghosts vs. Small Spaces

city of ghosts

City of Ghosts

By: Victoria Schwab

Grade: B

After a near death experience Cassie (the daughter of paranormal investigators no less) is able to make contact with ghosts. In fact she has a ghost sidekick friend. This isn’t that much of a big deal in America but she soon learns her parents will be touring Europe starting in Edinburgh, Scotland. Ghost central pretty much.

Not only are there more ghosts they can be quiet dangerous and Cassie immediately comes to the attention of a local ghost legend known for stealing children.

Family lore about me… I used to talk to my great grandmother and great aunt after they died. (They passed when I was two.) And was known for telling friends and family that my friends weren’t “imaginary” they were straight up dead. I even took my mother to ones grave. 🙂

So I was super interested in this and I really did enjoy it. It’s also a great travelogue that makes you want to get on a plane and go to Scotland. If I get to one day I’m totally checking out the haunted places in the book. I quiet liked Cassie- she’s a bright and peppy kind of main character. There’s no reason not to like her. But when I finished this one it felt kind of… empty. Like that’s it?

I don’t read a lot of middle grade so I wasn’t sure if I should fault it on wanting more. The end did tease some interesting (dark) possibilities for Cassies ghost friend. But then I thought it’s not one of her YA novels and probably not going to get that dark. It reminds me of a couple of recent movies where they were so busy trying to set up sequels and universes they forgot to make the first as strong as possible.

Then I read…

small spaces

Small Spaces

By: Katherine Arden

Grade: A

A standalone (I suppose) novel about Olivia who steals a book from a  woman about to destroy it and finds herself and her classmates at the mercy of a smiling man and his army of scarecrows.

Ollie is a lot like Cassie in the sense she’s spunky, bright and courageous. Also she just wants to be left alone to read her books which immediate connection there. Arden does a really good job with the school kids as well. Coco is adorable and I love the friendship that forms. Even the kids making fun of each other felt very real.

The ghost story is interesting. Scarecrows are creepy especially when their trying to capture and change you! I shouldn’t be surprised she does a good job with atmosphere because I also loved her writing in The Bear and the Nightingale.

So while I enjoyed both books and I think actual “middle-grade” readers will as well when City of Ghosts ended it was like that’s it? And also I can kind of see the future of this whole series in all honesty. Will I keep reading? Maybe. But mainly because I think the next one is in Paris.

But when Small Spaces ended I genuinely wanted more Ollie, Coco and Brian.

Also- and this is just my City of Ghosts nitpick- but if you’re going to put a cat on the cover of a ghost story you should do something more than have him carted around and annoyed.

Recommend: Yes to both. Though I liked Small Spaces more.

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