Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud, by guest contributor Karen Bonarek, MLIS Student at the University of Illinois & Intern Librarian at Downers Grove Public Library
With the upcoming release in September 2016 of The Creeping Shadow, the fourth book in the Lockwood & Co. series, not to mention the first book in the series being on the 2017 Rebecca Caudill list, this seems like a good time to take a closer look at the series.
The Screaming Staircase introduces Lucy Carlyle, Anthony Lockwood, and George Cubbins, three young teens who are psychic investigators dealing with “The Problem.” Fifty years ago, in an alternative modern-day London, ghosts and spirits of all kinds have arisen, wreaking havoc after darkness falls. Only the young are psychically tuned to even see spirits, so young teams of investigators risk their lives every evening battling the dead. Told in first person by Lucy, she joins the independent psychic investigation team of Lockwood & Co., headquartered out of Anthony’s home, to battle not only the spirits, but other, larger, better funded, more organized, corporate psychic investigation agencies. The trio wind up battling evil supernatural forces at Combe Carey Hall, the most haunted home in England, which has claimed the lives of previous owners and investigators.
The Whispering Skull finds the group battling a mad, horrific phantom, a deceased doctor who tried to communicate with the spirit world when he was alive. Unfortunately, his spirit is inadvertently released by George. In addition, we learn more about the strange (and illegally obtained) skull trapped in a green jar that George has been researching, and with which Lucy has a strange ability to communicate.
The Hollow Boy brings a new dynamic to the Lockwood & Co. trio. Due to their ongoing successes, the trio finds themselves with more cases than they can handle, let alone keeping on top of training and supplies. Solution? Bring in a fourth person to run the business, which adds a new dynamic and tension to the group. The group also begins to press Anthony for details on his family’s secrets, which was what prompted him to open his own agency. In the middle of all of this, London is suddenly overrun with an unprecedented amount of aggressive spirits; in spite of this, Lockwood & Co. is the only agency not invited to combatant the out-of-control threat. Yet, somehow, that doesn’t seem to stop them from getting involved . . . .
These books combine witty dialogue, great characters, and just enough supernatural chills that won’t necessarily send you under the blanket, but might have you clutching one.
(Grades 6 and up)