Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

I would like to thank Mary from Scholastic for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review

Publisher – Scholastic

Published – Out Now

Price - £7.99 paperback

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake…undead trouble.

Cass is in Paris, where her parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. The TV show is fun, but little do they know about the 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.

Bonjour!! Everywhere has ghost stories (even some members of my family…). In the UK it appears every stately home and ruin has some form of ghost be they grey or headless. But sometimes we forget that ghosts are part of many cultures and cities – their history be it ancient or relatively recent easily leads to spooky tales that can be both very different and similar to those in the UK. Last year I was very impressed with Victoria Schwab’s City of Ghosts where a young American teenager Cass and her best friend Jacob (who just happens to be a ghost) explored the haunting locations within Edinburgh.  Now with her TV presenter parents continuing their world tour of ghostly cities the family arrive in Paris where this time the city known for romance is instead a scene of haunting.

Cass and Jacob find themselves within the Catacombs of Paris (a miles long labyrinth containing the bones of 6 million inhabitants!). Cass has the ability to cross in the Veil (the hidden world where ghosts reside when not haunting us) and in the process appears to attract the attention of a spirit that initially just seems to tease her from just letting the cat out to then starting to place her and her family in danger. Cass finds out she has released from the Catacombs a poltergeist; a spirit that gets stronger and stronger with each act they commit in our world; but Cass also finds out that the skills she has already learned in order to move ghosts on may not be enough to stop her and rest of Paris being placed in mortal danger.

It’s safe to say Schwab is one of my favourite authors and this story I’m pleased to say does not disappoint.  As with any sequel in a series there is a risk you just get into a formula and while some successful elements are transferred over from the first book it does many things that are different and already starts to change the reader’s expectations of what to expect from the series. I really liked the development of Cass and Jacob in the novel.  Cass now that she’s learned she can move ghosts on is ready to help and explore her powers but with the poltergeist she discovers the ‘rules’ don’t quite apply as they expected and so she has to be resourceful and for someone prone to doing their own thing rely more than she’d like on Jacob and her fiend Lara to research and stop the spirit getting out of control. Jacob at the end of the previous book appears to be getting more stronger themselves in our world and he finds the situation they are in bringing back painful memories of his own mysterious past. These two have a really great best friend chemistry between each other from shared geek in jokes, teasing and supporting each other when they’re needed.  Just listening to them talk to one another is a joy.  They’re a duo you really invest in at the heart of the story.

But the other side of Schwab’s work is that ability to give you a slightly darker and weirder view of our world and in Paris this presents lots of opportunities. The Catacombs are a fantastic presence throughout the story and it’s not too hard to imagine that within that endless tunnel something is waiting for you; but on top of this we get little folk tales at various locations across the city – my favourite being a very simple but chilling tale of the top of Notre Dame. Schwab keeps the story almost at whisper level and simply explaining the sensation of falling can feel uncomfortable and enticing for the reader and then can let the action explodes when necessary the finale here is extremely tense and spooky. I really admire how the core threat of the novel is both extremely dangerous and menacing yet their secrets are a key and surprisingly emotional part of the book.  Finally, just when you think all is well the reader gets a very clear and surprising sensation of a larger tale that may hiding within the series and I now really cannot wait to see what happens next

While this series is one focused on the younger reader Schwab is such an accomplished storyteller that I feel any fan of their work will be happy to gobble this story up.  Strong developing characters; haunting stories and a sense of danger are a great combination. It’s a perfect tale for autumn as the nights grow darker, the shadows lengthen, and you hear an unusual noise from the next room.  Tentante n’est-ce pas?