This book is very definitely intended for a middle-grade audience, which made it not really my thing. It’s fun enough as an idea: Cassidy is the daughter of two professional ghost hunters. Her dad takes an intellectual approach, sceptical that ghosts could exist and focusing on the stories and records that surround paranormal phenomena. Her mother is a believer. Together they write books and now they’re filming a TV show, and Cassidy’s going along, to Edinburgh — the most haunted place in Britain. The thing is, Cassidy’s had a near-death experience herself, and come out changed — and with a ghost sidekick.
Naturally, it turns out that there really are hauntings in Edinburgh, and Cassidy finds herself nastily entangled in them, while also finding other people like herself who can pass through the Veil and experience the world of the ghosts. There’s plenty of room for more stories about Cassidy, her pet ghost, and her parents, and possibly room for some of the people she meets along the way. It’s in no way a bad book, but I found it less enjoyable because it is rather simplistic and short. I’m not the intended audience, so perhaps I shouldn’t be judging it at all — but then there are children’s books which are still completely enthralling to me, so it’s not impossible to make it work.
I probably won’t follow the further adventures of Cassidy, but I bet a kid of the right mentality would enjoy the heck out of it.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get round to reading Vicious; I think it’s my favourite of Schwab’s books so far. I started with A Darker Shade of Magic, I think, which was very much hyped. With Vicious, I had heard some hype about it, but it’s been out a while, so I didn’t really feel a pressure to like it, and maybe that helped. Also, it’s a superhero novel — sort of. Maybe supervillains. But maybe it’s best to say it’s morally dubious superpeople, each of whom may have a point but none of whom are really doing the right thing, in a world where it’s difficult in the extreme to figure out the right thing.
Normally the multiple timelines in this story would annoy me, but it worked in Vicious, giving us glimpses of the past to fill in the story, while giving us bits of the ‘present’ to tantalise. Schwab handled it with assurance, and I was content to trust her that the things she was showing me were necessary for the story — it didn’t feel like an overfond author giving us unnecessary background. In fact, the narration feels very clean: every word necessary, every chapter honed to a sharp point.
The characters… well, you can’t quite like them, but I was intrigued by them. By their sharp edges and their inconsistencies, their beliefs. Both Vincent and Eli had reasons for their actions, and you can see exactly the point where they diverge — with the background story slowly being filled in, you actually get to see the difference it turns on, and catch it sneaking up on them. I found Sydney’s changes toward the end fascinating, and I think there’s a seed there for a potentially very interesting story about her and Victor, too. I wonder if that’s what the sequel will be about… either way, I’m very much looking forward to that.
Today, I learned a thing. I was not very happy to learn this thing. See, it turns out that when you grab a book that’s been put out ahead of the release date, the sale doesn’t count towards that (fairly important) first week sales metric. I just googled it for something to link and easily found a bunch ofpeopletalking about it.
When I see a store put out books before release date, half of me thrills, but the other half wilts. Books sold then don’t count for week 1.
Instead of using The Book Depository as usual, I will pre-order two copies of A Gathering of Shadows and then mail them out myself when the giveaway is over. So you can be absolutely sure these will count, and if the Post Office ships to you, you can enter. I will end it at the end of February, so people aren’t waiting too long for their copies.
Now, I did include some options for extra entries by following my blog, etc, but the main way is via that tweet, and you can do that once per day.