Cassidy Blake nearly drowned. It was Jacob who saved her, but she didn’t know him then. Ever since that day Jacob and Cassidy have been best friends, even though Jacob is a ghost.
Cassidy can see ghosts and cross the Veil into their world, but is this ability a blessing or a curse? Cass is about to find out when her family visits the most haunted places in Scotland.
I give this book 3 stars (out of five).This is a pleasant little paranormal story about a girl named Cassidy and her best friend Jacob, who is a ghost. He’s been with her ever since he saved her life, after that Cass has been able to cross the Veil and see ghosts on the other side. Neither of them are entirely sure why but they just roll with it, coincidentally Cass’s parents are successful writers who write a series that combines history and paranormal to create an entertaining story for both believers and skeptics (sort of like Buzzfeed Unsolved but in the form of novels).
Anyways, over the summer Cass’s family ends up in Scotland exploring some of the most haunted places for a TV adaptation of her parents’ series. But being in very haunted places makes Cass feel weird and she gets pulled through the Veil a few times because the ghosts are so strong. Early on their trip she sees someone in the Veil that seems different from the others, she was a woman in red who looked right at Cass and tried to lure her in. Cassidy would later discover that she was the Raven in Red, the ghost of a mother who lost her own son and then spent every winter since taking other children to try and get him back.
While in Scotland Cassidy meets someone she never expected to meet, someone like her. Staying at the same place as her family, Lara (who is British) is what she calls an In-Betweener and when she’s in what Cass calls the Veil (and she calls the In-Between) she uses mirrors to set the ghosts free and she helps teach Cassidy how to do the same thing.
This causes a bit of a conflict between Jacob and Cass because he’s afraid that she’s going to get rid of him, but Cassidy would never do that unless it was what he wanted, so he didn’t really have much to worry about but it understandably does change their relationship slightly.
The main problem is that Cassidy sees the Raven in Red again and she can’t avoid getting pushed through the Veil in the extremely haunted places she’s forced to go with her parents for filming.
[Spoiler Warning, skip the next paragraph to avoid them.]
[I’m not going to fully explain the mechanics of this] One of these times Jacob is taken to lure Cassidy in and the Raven in Red steals the essence of Cassidy’s life, she can’t leave the Veil anymore and she’s becoming more and more like Jacob. In order to get her life back they find Lara and have an epic final battle scene where they use the mirrors to finally get rid of her and eventually they do get Cassidy’s life back.
I didn’t mention this much in the summary but Jacob can read Cassidy’s mind and I think this affects their friendship in interesting ways. There’s no way Cassidy could ever keep secrets from him and this allows them to communicate even when they’re in groups of people because Jacob can hear her thoughts and he can just speak out loud since no one else will hear him.
I really liked Jacob and Cassidy’s friendship, they quote friendship rules whenever something goes wrong or challenges them, in a way that would be annoying if everyone else could hear them, but since it’s something that only they share, is nice. And I can’t say for sure if it’s because they’re so connected but their friendship is very secure, like they’ll be together for life or at least for the indefinite future.
As a young person myself, I know that we are prone to thinking that the people we’re friends with now will always be our friends, even if realistically we’ll probably fall out with them the second we aren’t in the same class and forced to interact. But they feel like the rare case when that feeling isn’t misplaced or fraudulent and I liked that because it made reading their story a lot more enjoyable.
I liked Cassidy’s camera and how it connects to her character and her unique ability as an In-Betweener. And I really liked the two background characters, Cassidy’s family cat named Grim and Findley, their tour guide. He wasn’t a very significant character but I thought he was cool.
Since Cassidy and her family are American she was very surprised when they got to Scotland they say and do things differently, like calling fries Chips, cookies biscuits and apartments flats. I’m mentioning this because it was played up a lot in the book, to the point where it was extremely noticeable.
This story is a bit too young for me, which does impact how I feel about it because while I did enjoy the story I feel like it was very predictable and basic. I knew more or less how it was going to end and I wasn’t as invested in it as I am in some other YA books. I don’t know if there’s something to be said about the age of the main characters in relation to mine or if it’s more the pacing of the story, but overall it was underwhelming to me in that sense. But I know that’s an age thing.
Overall I really liked this story but I would’ve liked it more if it had a bit more action, conflict and leaned into the existential side of things more, considering that the main character did neraly die and that’s what got her into this entire situation. But then that would’ve made this book a bit too mature for the younger kids reading so I can’t blame this book for not being made for me, that’s okay and I still liked it anyways.
I’ve found when going back and reading Middle grade books or what I call Young Readers on this site, that how old I am when reading does impact how I feel about and process stories. I definitely prefer YA books, these make me feel quite nostalgic and I still like reading them.
When I read this book I didn’t know it was a part of a series, so the pacing makes a bit more sense because the author was probably saving some of the action and conflict for the next installment. I probably won’t be reading the rest of the series.