This second book in the Lockwood & Co. series continues the ghost-fighting adventures of Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle and George Cubbins, children with psychic abilities who risk their lives confronting Britain's wandering spirits. Lockwood is the charismatic leader of the struggling agency, George is the researcher, and Lucy. as the newest member of the team, is still identifying all of her psychic abilities.
As the smallest agency, they are always looking for ways to prove themselves. When a job goes wrong, and members of the Fittes Agency, a much larger a prestigious company, are there to swoop in and finish the job, Lockwood throws out a challenge. Whoever loses the next job will have to post a letter in the newspaper admitting defeat, thereby solidifying the winning agency's reputation as superior. Unfortunately, the next job proves to be especially challenging with dangerous ghosts, murderous grave robbers, missing supernatural artifacts, haunted houses, and dangerous criminal contacts. To top it all off, Lucy starts hearing a menacing voice that seems to be coming from a ghost jar . . .
Clever dialogue, elegant characters and a well-paced plot line show off Jonathan Stroud's palpable talent as a story-teller. Even those of us not drawn to horror will appreciate this well-crafted adventure and be totally entrenched in this eerily plausible story. Because the subject matter is supernaturally charged, there are some gruesome aspects that may turn the squeamish away and the obvious horror theme does make this more appropriate for an older audience. All that being said, this somewhat heavy ghost-filled tale is masterfully broken up with witty banter, in typical Stroud style, that will make you laugh out loud.
The ending is satisfying and does what any book in a series should do -- wrap up the loose ends that have arisen in the latest adventure, but leave a door open with an intriguing twist to lure you to the next book. Without the frustration of stopping mid-story, there is just enough of a twist at the end to want to keep reading. The only problem? Now we have to wait for Book Three.
*Review copy received from publisher.
Lockwood & Co., Book 2 The Whispering Skull
by Jonathan Stroud
published by Disney-Hyperion
recommended for ages 12 and up