- Megan Bingham
The last time we saw our three heroes, Anthony Lockwood, George and Lucy, they had spent a night in the most haunted house in England and conquered a feisty and persistent ghost at the bottom of the Screaming Staircase. However, six months have passed since the incident made them famous, and Lockwood & Co. are not seeing any progress toward their goal of becoming London’s (and the World’s) most successful modern-day ghost agents. To make matters worse, Fittes Agent Quill Kipps and his team of young bullies are consistently on their backs.
A new client, Mr. Saunders and his excavation team, hires Lockwood & Co. to seal the coffin of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who was supposedly involved in the dark arts. After a somewhat successful opening, another problem quickly arises for the team: the mysterious mirror that Bickerstaff held in his dead hands has been stolen from the storage site. Now, DEPRAC (the Department of Psychical Research and Control) has summoned both the Lockwood and the Fittes agents to work together on the case. In a hasty challenge proposed by Lockwood out of sheer anger against Kipps, both teams must race against each other to find the stolen mirror. The loser has to admit defeat publicly in a New York Times ad.
To add to the never-ending chaos of their most recent case, Lucy, who has special sensory powers to communicate with the dead, is hearing malicious and confusing whispers coming from one of George’s many unknown artifacts: a human skull inside a glass jar. As the plot deepens, Lucy hears the Whispering Skull more frequently, and everything the floating head says turns her world upside down.
Jonathan Stroud has given the second installment to his Lockwood & Co. series a lot of exciting energy and supernatural mystery. The team’s amorous adventures and conflicting beliefs make for great and exciting drama, but not over-the-top teenage angst. Like J.K. Rowling ‘s Harry Potter series, Stroud has created his own ingenious individual world, where the possibility of ghosts returning from the dead isn’t so rare. Expect the Whispering Skull and its dark secrets to keep you up at night reading —and also make you leave the light on when you go to sleep.