Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
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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.
Cassidy Blake is as charming as ever in Tunnel of Bones.
About a year and a half ago, I had a wonderful time reading the first Cassidy Blake book, City of Ghosts. Set in Edinburgh and filled to the brim with a cozy creepiness that I couldn’t help but love, it became a fast favorite. And thankfully, Tunnel of Bones keeps up the momentum! We travel to Paris this time, exploring the Catacombs, a definitely not haunted hotel, and more. And of course, Cassidy and Jacob get into all kinds of trouble with ghosts, but isn’t that par for the course?
This time, it’s more about character than plot.
Sure, the plot is important. I admire V.E. Schwab for being able to balance the two so well. For Tunnel of Bones, though, character nudges into the priority spot just ever so slightly. Now that we understand Cassidy’s powers and her world as it stands between life and death, it’s more important that we see what she intends to do with them. She’s already torn, since her powers are meant to send ghosts on from hauntings, and yet she can’t do that to Jacob, her best friend. And with Tunnel of Bones, she has to reckon with the dangers that could fall upon not just her, but her family and friends.
It really balances well against the newness and exploration of City of Ghosts, without sacrificing too much of those elements. Plus, it also means we get more insight into Jacob, who tends to keep his cards close to his chest where his life is concerned. I like him even more after this installment (as if he wasn’t already a delight before), since it drives home that he’s a kid. And sure, he’s dead, but he’s still a kid, and he’s afraid. Just like Cassidy.
Seriously, if nothing else, the character development is just truly choice.
And the setting comes alive once again! If you can call the world of the dead alive…
Another thing I love about V.E. Schwab’s work, no matter what audience it’s meant for, is that she excels at painting the setting in full color. Cassidy’s trip to Paris is no different, and while it doesn’t have the sweeping sense of majesty I love from the Shades of Magic series, it does have a suitably middle grade charm and pep to it. In particular, the way Schwab describes Cassidy’s trips into the Veil is chilling but curious, and the ominous sense to the Catacombs plays out incredibly well. Plus, I don’t think you’d have to be told the book takes place in Paris to know that it’s in Paris. Sure, the landmarks help, but you get a sense of knowing exactly where you are, even if you’ve never been there in real life.
Plus, toss in an antagonist who almost feels like an extension of the city itself, and you have a phenomenal combo.
Essentially, Tunnel of Bones is a fantastic second book in a series.
I’d say trilogy, except I don’t know if it’s going to be just three books. Maybe we’ll get more?
Anyway, if you had fun with City of Ghosts, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy Tunnel of Bones. I liked it only a hair less than the first book (mostly because the newness and excitement of City of Ghosts had a lot of appeal, and this book was a bit more subdued), and I didn’t sink into it like I would a heftier book, but hey. It’s a middle grade book, and I’m ultimately not the target audience. And I’m having fun on Cassidy and Jacob’s ghostly adventures! Isn’t that what counts?
CW: loss of a loved one, child death, minor violence