Book Review: Tunnel of Bones

I try to keep up with all the latest books my middle school kids might be interested in reading. This means I don’t get the luxury of reading the whole series. If I read book one, I can tell the kids about that. They give it a try, get hooked, and read through the series. Meanwhile, I read other books and tell other kids about those. Sometimes though, I indulge in a sequel and this was one of them. It was almost like fate.

I was going to be on a 12-hour drive to El Paso for a funeral and needed an audiobook. I have Audible but the credit wouldn’t arrive until the drive back home. So I checked my local library via Libby (Overdrive) to see what was available. Would you believe Tunnel of Bones was available for download right then! I was so excited! Normally the really good books have a huge waitlist. Like Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, I’ve been on the waitlist for literally 6 months. I should get it in a few days. Yeah!

I will be assuming that you’ve already read book one of this series so… Stop here if you have not read City of Ghosts! If you’d like to read a review of City of Ghosts, check it out here.

River Song Spoilers

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Tunnel of Bones

by Victoria Schwab
Scholastic Press

Tunnel of Bones Book Cover

Tunnel of Bones is book two in the Cassidy Blake series. In book one Cassidy Blake died and was brought back into the world of the living by a ghost. Somehow this creates a bond between them. Cassidy’s parents are ghost hunters and for their TV show, they are visiting the most haunted cities in the world.

Book one was Edinburgh, Scotland.

Book two is set in Paris, France!

If you haven’t heard of the Catacombes of Paris, it’s real. Over 6 million bones. Stacked neatly. Can you imagine what stories those bones could tell? Take a look here

The Paris Catacombs, skulls
The Paris Catacombsvia

In this story, Cassidy and her friend Jacob (ghost friend) go into the catacombs with her parents for their TV show. She learned in the last book how dangerous ghosts can be when she crosses the veil. Now, something has crossed the veil back onto the world of the living. It is dangerous and the longer it stays on the living side, the more powerful it is becoming. The mirror and word trick doesn’t work on this ghost. It is not like other ghosts. It is affecting the real world and it is strong.

The Story

I say “She Story” instead of “The Writing” because we already know that Victoria Schwab is an amazing writer. So the question is…was this a good sequel?

Yes! It was! The setting was for sure interesting. I will say that this made me hungry because she describes the foods there. And little known fact: I have a degree in Pastry Arts, so I always worry when writers talk desserts. If I remember correctly, Schwab lives in France at least part of the time. So she did all the food justice and got all the information about the desserts correct.

Second, this was not just a follow the formula type of story. Yes, a new city. Ghosts. but also, a new problem too. This ghost is different. That is the Ghosty plotline.

There is also the personal plotline. Cass and Jacob have rules. One is that friends don’t keep secrets. But Jacob never talks about his life from when he was alive. So that constitutes a secret right? But maybe it is just too painful. However, something about this case causes Cass to wonder if it might not be another reason. This brings their friendship to the brink.

Schwab told an amazing story!

The Narrator

The narrator, Reba Buhr, for this story did a terrific job with all the accents. I read to my classes at times and reading a story with so many accents is hard! So my hat off to her!

Who Will Like This Story?

If you liked City of Ghosts you will love this story!

I honestly can’t wait to see where she goes next? Asia? Middle East? I’d love that because I know those areas are rich with ancient history which I’m sure contains all kinds of ghosts. I think if she comes to the US it will be Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina. Where would you like Cassidy to go next? Cairo? Venice? Ho Chi Minh? Beijing? What city do you think it will be?

Now is the new part of my review…the Writers Lessons I can’t really talk in-depth unless I spoil some things about the story, so go read the book, then come back and read the last section after you have done that.

River Song "Spoilers"
Below are Spoilers for Tunnel of Bones!

Lorax saying You have been warned
You have been Warned!

Writer Lessons Learned from Schwab

Do your research! You never know when your reader is more knowledgeable about a topic than you. Schwab got ALL the pastry food facts right! She did her research and I was impressed.

boy facepalm

I once read a book called Candymaker in which the author said they put it on the stove and BOILED chocolate. *facepalm* It should always be heated on a double boiler. Chocolate is liquid around body temperature and burns at around 115′ to 120′ depending on the type of chocolate. Chocolate alone will never boil; it burns and becomes a clumpy, crumbly mess long before then. It didn’t ruin the whole story and wasn’t critical to the plot, but it kicked me out. And clearly I’m still upset by this… 8 years later. Research. Research. Research. You might not get ALL the details right but get the basics right at least.

Schwab could have used her first story as a formula and gone with another plain old ghost for this one. She didn’t. Cassidy and Jacob can’t rest on their laurels. This is a poltergeist. They go by a different set of rules, they have to learn those new rules. This kept the main characters off balance and the story interesting.

red onion to show the layers of a story
Layers of a Story

Layers and Theme Cassidy begins to doubt Jacob. What if he is, in fact, a poltergeist or becoming one? Can she trust him? He doesn’t talk about his past, maybe because he has forgotten it. Her friend says their partnership is unnatural. She has many reasons to doubt Jacob in this story. But friendship is built on trust.

Jacob has his own character arc he is wrestling with as the story progresses. Can he tell Cass about his past? What will it change if he does? So this ties in with the theme that has run through both books that friends don’t keep secrets so you can trust your friend. He must trust her with his past so she can help him remember his name is Jacob Ellis Hale and he has two brothers. Oh, Onion layers!


Book, Notebook, coffee, pen, Homework

Think about your WIP sequel if there is one. How can you change things up to keep your MC off balance?

What topics do you need to research? (Be careful you don’t get lost in the research though! Just make sure you get the main details right.)

Do your plotlines tie into the theme? Do you have a theme? I hope so. You might start out with a theme or you might unearth one as you go. Kudos, if all of your plot threads point to one central theme!