Review: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

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In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn’t made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood’s investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.


Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George’s curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.


Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood’s annoyance. Bickerstaff’s coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.


Review

WARNING: This is the second in the series for the Lockwood & Co books and so this review will likely contain spoilers for the first book but not for the second.

I was deseperate to get hold of this book as soon as I’d turned the last page of the first novel.  It was that good and made such an impact that I didn’t want to have to wait.  I did have to, in the end, as it seems it takes time to write and publish a book and they won’t just ‘make it happen’ because I want it sooner.  Damn.

We pick up about 6 months from the ending of book one and Lucy is fully part of the Lockwood and Co team and their adventures of solving mysteries and getting rid of nasties in the night have gone from strength to strength.  They’ve got a little fame and interest from The Screaming Staircase case and are doing good work.  However, a new case has come along that could potentially break their success-streak and might even break their tight-knit team up beyond repair.  The case gets darker and deeper into the world of the undead and the mystery soon begins to threaten not just their livelihood but their lives too.

A page-turner at it’s peak, Jonathan Stroud has written another rip-roaring success of a story that has all the chills and thrills of the first book and the added depth of characters and their relationships that build over time and develop.  I loved to see the dynamics of the team shift and change as the story went on and to see how the rest of the world of ghosts works; from the other agencies to those that turn a profit from the world of spooks.

This sets Stroud as a leader of YA Horror and Fantasy in my eyes and, quite frankly, if you have read his books yet, you’re missing out big time.  This series is perfection for the Halloween season ahead so do yourselves a favour and go buy them ASAP!

Published by DoubleDay, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, and is available from bookshops and online retailers now

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