The books you'll want to read.
LOCKWOOD & CO: THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE and THE WHISPERING SKULL by Jonathan Stroud
Prepare for gushing, folks. These books are written for middle grade children, but it’s easy to forget that fact immediately. You won’t find big type and parsed down language here. Instead, you’ll find genuinely engaging characters—the protagonists are under the age of 15, although it’s unclear exactly how old they are—witty banter and excellent storytelling. And the stories are everything you want a ghost-hunting book to be—interesting, genuinely scary at times with intriguing mysteries at the heart. I found them impossible to put down, and unable to wait for the next installment. Action, adventure, and a little mystery-solving—what more can you ask for? Run out and buy the first one–it’s the perfect time of year for these.
THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE
London has a problem. Well, all of England does, really, and it’s a problem with a capital P. Ghosts and spirits are now an everyday and dangerous occurrence, with ghost lamps on every street at night, strict curfews before dark and people regularly dying from run-ins. Children are the only ones who can really see the spirits in order to fight them, so agencies have popped up employing children to fight the supernatural evils. Mortality rates are high, but the pay and respect are good. Lucy Carlyle is a gifted and brave ghost hunter with the unique ability to hear spirits. Like most young people, she worked with an adult mentor at a local agency—until one terrible and disastrous night ends the lives of several of her young co-workers. Lucy takes off for London, hoping to leave that experience and her disinterested family far behind. Lucy winds up at Lockwood & Co, a small and adult-free agency run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood and his grumpy associate George. When a new case goes more than a little wrong, and the team finds they have to pay off a significant amount of damage, Lockwood & Co must take on a very dangerous case—eradicating the evil ghosts of one of the most haunted estates in Britain. But their employer may not be telling them the entire truth, and more than a few secrets need to be unearthed and destroyed for the agency—and the agents—to survive.
THE WHISPERING SKULL
Tensions are high at the house on Portland Row. Since Lockwood & Company’s big case, a rival team of ghost hunters headed up by the deplorable Quill Kipps has been swooping in and stealing their cases…and their glory. When Lockwood’s team is asked to assist in the exhumation of a Victorian doctor named Edmund Bickerstaff, they immediately agree, despite the strange circumstances of the grave and his death. It seems Bickerstaff was involved in some very dark magic involving a mirror made from the bones of the cursed, and he is now buried in an iron coffin. The exhumation and sealing of the coffin goes well—except that George and another researcher gazed a little too long at the cursed mirror when the coffin was open. When the mirror goes missing, Inspector Barnes at DEPRAC wants both rival teams to work together to find the dangerous artifact before more lives are lost to it. Meanwhile one of the artifacts stowed away in Lockwood’s house—a glass jar with a skull inside it—has been whispering to Lucy, and it seems the skull not only wants to stir up trouble, but might actually know some things about their current case.
The third book in the series, THE HOLLOW BOY, was released in September…and you can expect a review of that to be coming soon.