A mirror shows us what we know.
I am incredibly fortunate to have amazing friends that know what I love to read and send along galleys if and when they come across them. Thank you to Vicki for sending me this book! Time to settle in to some spooky fun.
Tunnel of Bones
By Victoria Schwab
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Read Date: July 2019
Format: physical galley
Genre: middle grade, horror, paranormal
Page Count: 304 pages
Rating: 5/5 Moose
After a near death experience in Scotland (the second one of Cassidy’s life), her family is now in Paris for their next filming adventures. But if Paris has anything, it’s definitely ghosts. And super creepy underground Catacombs. Unfortunately for Cassidy, this is a combination for unleashing a spirit stronger than she’s used to, one that can potentially destroy the city.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
I don’t read a ton of middle grade books that I didn’t read in childhood. Middle grade horror is apparently the exception, as I think there are some really good things going on in that genre right now. Schwab’s Cassidy Blake series is definitely one of them. The first book creeped me out enough that I ended up closing the book and turning on a light before Cassidy continued into the foggy void called the Veil, where ghosts are stronger and humans are more in danger.
This book isn’t quite as scary, but it is not any less creepy. That’s a weird distinction to make I’m sure. Perhaps it is because instead of reading the book in my apartment, which tends to be darker (and have more scary corners), I read this book on my subway commute. But really, I think the evil presence in book one just scared me more. None of this is to speak negatively about this book though. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite. Schwab doesn’t rely on dreary weather and a terrifying presence to tell her story: she takes that notion and builds on that platform.
Cassidy’s family (and Jacob) are in Paris for their next filming adventure. Paris definitely has enough of a dark and twisted past, what between all the wars alone, to have an abundant of ghosts to try Cass’s newly confirmed ghost hunting skills, no matter what her best friend Jacob may think about that. But the darker the city, the more potentially dangerous the ghosts.
What I love is how Schwab lays out Paris. When you think of the city, it’s always bright and shiny — good food, maybe some wine, always a fall day and the Eiffel Tower is always in the background. It’s not the haunted city you think of when you think of places like London or Edinburgh or Prague. Paris is fashion and croissants, not ghosts and poltergeists. So the ability to take this shiny city and have the potential to destroy it with ghosts is such a great juxtaposition. AND there are croissants.
Her family even takes a tour deep into the catacombs, a word that has always frightened me without me fully grasping what it is. I mean, I knew it was related to cemeteries and mass graves, but I’ve never researched or thought about it enough to grasp WALLS OF BONES. What is even better is how close I live to Green-Wood Cemetery and how I have definitely walked past the catacombs in there, debating a tour as well. Though I’ll be honest, I am not entirely sure my American catacombs are as cool as the European ones.
Cass might be worrying about her new ghostly problem, but it isn’t the only thing on her mind. If you haven’t read book one, sorry for the mild spoiler: her best friend Jacob is also a ghost. Not a ghost from hundreds of years ago, but a ghost who died in the past decade at the most who adores comics and is not a fan of horror. He’s ironically the frequent voice of hesitation for Cass’s adventures, especially if it involves going into the Veil. I want to say he’s a ghost afraid of ghost, but it’s not quite that silly. He just is the kind of kid who wouldn’t be reading horror or ghost books for fun. While Jacob sounds awesome, he is still a ghost. While the rules of ghosts aren’t consistent, frequently it Is understood that the longer someone is a ghost, the less human they become, and the more aggressive of a haunt they become. This idea is in some form always in the back of Cassidy’s mind…a mind Jacob can read.
I’ll be honest: I do truly worry about Jacob too.
Middle grade books tend to be more episodic than other genre’s series. They tend to have enough information that you can probably get away with not reading the books that came before, though you always should. Tunnel of Bones has this quality, though not as extreme as middle grade books in the 90s. It doesn’t have a repetitive feel (think how you can probably skip the first or second chapters of an Animorphs book while they lay out the alien invasion). It stands on its own (which not all sequel books do so thank god for that), but there isn’t so much background information that you don’t need to read book one. If this is the direction middle grade literature is headed, I am all for it.
My thoughts for the first book still stand:
- Child-Meg would have idolized Cassidy
- This series is perfect for getting kids into the horror genre. The ending is still spooking me out enough that ahh I cannot wait for book three.
- Also dreading Jacob’s sanity and safety for many books to come.