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The Tombs

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  199 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Gangs of New York meets Cassandra Clare in this debut YA fantasy set in 1882 Brooklyn

New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what oth
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by HarperTeen
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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destiny ☠ howling libraries
I'm not going to bother with giving this a full, in-depth review, and I apologize for that, but this book uses a tremendous re-occurrence of a slur ("g*psy", a common slur against Romani peoples) and makes no apology for it. There's even an author note in the back of the book in which the author tries to justify and make excuses for her insistence to add this book for the sake of "historical accuracy". That's not an excuse that flies with me, and when I skipped ahead and saw this justification, ...more
Kathy MacMillan
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl has been working as a welder in an ironworks factory ever since her mother was locked in the Tombs asylum and she and her father had to flee their respectable middle-class life. The skills Avery has developed in creating perfect metal connections are only appropriate, as she discovers that she has powers that let her see the connections between lives, and help heal other people’s auras. But in New York City in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, such powers are d ...more
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

THE TOMBS captured my attention with the alluring promise of a forbidding city and a young woman struggling with unexplainable powers. I was enthusiastic to read a historical fiction novel and found the stylized cover intriguing.

Unfortunately, I had many problems with THE TOMBS and almost stopped reading at multiple points. My biggest issue is that THE TOMBS often introduces problematic elements but never examines them. For example, one of Avery's love
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

4 1/2 Stars

The Tombs is a wonderful blend of history and fantasy, and Deborah Schaumberg does a fantastic job at bringing gritty 1882 New York City to vividly to life. Almost everything works here from the well-rounded characters to the detailed world-building. The only reason why I’m not giving this perfect marks is because toward the middle of the book the pace seemed to slow down a bit. Overall though, t
Kathy Martin
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This historical fantasy takes place in an alternate history New York in 1882. Avery Kohl is a young woman working in one of the many factories. She a welder in an iron works. She and her father are hiding from the Crows who took her mother and imprisoned her in the Tombs which is part prison and part mental asylum. Her father works as a clockmaker/inventor which brings in a steampunk element to the story.

Avery is sixteen and starting to have the sort of visions that led to her mother's imprisonm
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-debuts
Deborah Schaumberg's The Tombs first landed on my radar because of its stunning cover. Then I read the synopsis and a decision was made: I needed it and pronto! As it turns out, The Tombs is a magical and rich debut. It's hard not to become completely enthralled by Avery's journey as well as rooting for her every step of the way.

There's many things Deborah does well here; however, one of the best is the descriptions. It was so incredibly easy to be transported to New York City, 1882. I could pi
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know my status updates don't seem like I enjoyed this book, but I really, really did. It was special. The Tombs is definitely one of the creepiest books I have read in a long time, and the main antagonist was horrifying. The characters were amazing, as was the atmosphere, and I thought all the issues I had were handled delicately. There was even an author note at the back about the usage of the G word.

However, I have thoughts about that. I need to marinate on them more and I will share my full
Raven_Blake (dreamy addictions)
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars!
Same Review Also Posted On My Blog: Dreamy Addictions

I have mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed it but I didn't love it. The concept of this book was amazing and the world building was a total perfection, but sadly I couldn't connect with the characters and the pacing seemed slow to me and it literally dragged in the middle. I'm really not fan of slow reads but if you can handle them then you might enjoy it more than I did. I liked the characters, but the ro
Sara (sarabara081)
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: february-2018
You can find more of my reviews at Forever 17 Books.

3.5 stars!

There were so many aspects of The Tombs that urged me to pick it up. The setting is a fantasy world blended into the real NYC of 1882, a time after the civil war where racial segregation is still quite prominent. In this fantasy world there are people with unique powers, powers they must keep hidden because seemingly lurking around every corner is a scary doctor and his men wearing crow masks, ready to take you away to an asylum calle
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Though I'm DNFing after eight chapters, I do think there's a lot of promise in this debut. Nothing quite worked for me personally, but everything has a lot of potential. I feel like I'll probably really like Schaumberg's next book but it's not quite there yet for me. I like what I've read fairly well, but I'm not invested in the story. Worth a try if you're into horror and paranormal historical novels.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: steampunk
Teenage Avery’s life changed the day her mother was committed to the Tombs, a ‘hospital’ for the insane. In an effort to hide their disgrace–and out of necessity as their middle-class standing is ruined–Avery and her father change their names and move to a less desirable part of town, where her father opens a clockwork shop and she begins working as a welder at a local factory. It’s not the life she lived before, where she went to school, wore nice clothes, and was friends with girls her age–and ...more
Heather (The Sassy Book Geek)
Originally Posted On The Sassy Book Geek

**** Huge thank you to HarperTeen for approving me for this eARC in exchange for an honest review! ****

I have to say I’m a little confused about my feelings for this book, because it started out excellent and then for some reason dragged at the end and the story got really jumbled up. I think it had a lot of potential but that ending just made everything fall really flat for me.

What I Liked:

-Avery Kohl, our main character, is a fantastic protagonist. S
L.V. Pires
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There was so much to love about Deborah Schaumberg's debut novel, THE TOMBS. First off, the setting for this novel is New York City in 1882, which peaked my interest and made me want to move this novel to the top of my reading list. Then, I found out there was a secretive asylum with all sorts of mysterious testing going on as well as elements of fantasy and the supernatural, so I dropped everything and started reading.

Schaumberg's seamless prose was probably my favorite part of this novel. The
Danielle Hammelef
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
The cover of this book and premise made this a must read for me. I enjoyed Avery and found her very kind, loving, loyal, as well as a risk taker and hard worker, all of which I admire. I loved the rich writing and felt the world was real.

However, the book pace was too slow and not much happened over too many pages. I also felt the secondary characters were not well developed. I also didn't like the love triangle or understand Avery's attraction to Indigo, although maybe in the sequel (it's set u
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
*thank you HarperTeen for sending me a copy of his book in exchange for review!*

This book was really very okay.

The plot is so intriguing, curious, and did leave you wanting to turn the page, but I kept finding myself rolling my eyes at dialogue or squinting at the small moments.

I felt like the writing fit more of a younger audience than i was expecting considering the dark plot, and it just wasn’t for me.

Like I said. It was okay. There were things I enjoyed and things I didn’t, bringing it to a
Talia Colley
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tower-teams-vi
This book, like all the historical fiction I’ve been reading lately, led me to Google and Wikipedia to learn more about the real history of the Tombs and the Five Points neighborhood in NYC. Fascinating! And I had no idea what this story was going to be about, so the plot was surprising and unpredictable. It did seem a bit too long, but it was a good read.
Elaine Carass
Loved it. What a roller coaster of a book.
I hope there will be a sequel.
full review to come
Couldn't put this down. An intricate and interesting world!
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hopefully there will be a second book!
Imré Welnicki
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This book was FANTASTIC! I absolutely love historical fiction and this had everything I love about it plus action. I do enjoy some of the darker sides of history, and this gave me exactly the right amount. It may seem a little macabre, but it's just enough to give an idea of how badly the working class and supposed "insane" or "mentally disturbed" people were treated.
I appreciate Avery's determination and perseverance throughout the book, even when she thought she would give up she thought of so
Andria Sedig
Three years ago, Avery's mother was taken and placed in an asylum for being insane; she saw visions, something unusual in new York. Now, Avery fears that she will also be locked away in the Tombs because she is starting to see things as well. When her unusual gift causes an explosion at her place of work and places her and her father in danger, Avery knows that she will have to figure out the truth behind her gift - and possibly learn to control and accept it as well. But this will not be easy. ...more
Samantha Glass
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good first book from a new to me author. I enjoyed the steampunk and paranormal aspects and am interested to see if a follow-up book is in the works. Well written, vivid prose.
The reader finds themselves in a haunting, dark, gritty New York City, one that holds powerful secrets and powerful men -- all of which work toward trying to harness the abilities of "witches", the people who are branded as such and then locked away in The Tombs, a horrible asylum/prison where unspeakable experiments are being performed.

Avery's mother is taken to The Tombs for being able to "see" the unseen, and Avery ignores all signs of this same ability in her, fearful she will also be locked
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was curious about the title, intrigued by the cover, and once I began, I just couldn't stop. That's how mesmerizing I found the story to be.

We're in the early 1800's, Brooklyn, New York, and seeing the world through the gritty, muddied streets of the average Joe/Jane...or rather the ones that once were higher up, knocked down by circumstance and odd occurrences. Young Avery is a girl in a boy's world, just trying to help her father, the only family she has left, as they claw and crawl each day
Amy Braun
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having just finished this book, all I can say is: I want the sequel! Please, please, please let there be another book because I'll go crazy if it just ends like that! Right from the start, I was hooked by the concept and the characters. It was a beautifully told story with layered individuals and a strong lead character in Avery. Not to mention there was a series creep factor regarding the Tombs itself. The story was interesting and engaging, and there were genuinely sweet moments that pulled at ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Avery lives in a tenement and works with the other undesirable kids as a welder. Her mother is gone, taken away to The Tombs as a mental patient years earlier, and her father has struggled ever since. While he used to make amazing clocks, he no longer does that, preferring to tinker on other things instead. When Avery starts to believe she may have the same mental issues as her mother, and defies her father to learn more, they find themselves making a great enemy—one that will stop at nothing to ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent teen appropriate steampunky historical thriller. Danger and threats increase steadily in scenes around 1890s New York City. The denouement reads perfectly and really screams to be filmed.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. Loved the story and I couldn't put it down. Avery and the other characters were really interesting, and the writing brings them to life wonderfully. So well-written, and in reading it I felt like I was living in 1880s New York. Definitely 5 stars!
Cassie James
Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review, This doesn't in any way influence my opinion on it.


The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg is yet again another absolutely brilliant debut novel. Avery's story is a captivating one that grabbed my attention from the very beginning and never let go. Dashing through the streets of 1800s New York with Avery was a fantastic experience I enjoyed having. Avery Kohl works in a ironworks factory and tries to keep her inventor fathe

I'm so torn on this book, and I feel like it's been a common refrain for things I've read this year: I liked it, but... 

The Tombs definitely had some things working for it, that I think will draw a lot of readers in. It's got a strong female protagonist, a bit of a steampunk-ish take on turn-of-the-century New York; there's action, there's romance. . . it will certainly win some people over. And though I pretty much enjoyed it throughout, there were always some things (a number of things, real
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Deborah Schaumberg's debut novel -- THE TOMBS-- is a historical fantasy about aura seers. It has a hint of steampunk and an evil doctor. She grew up in New York, and now lives in Maryland with her family and two big dogs.

More about Deborah Schaumberg

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