This week we welcome one of our trustees, Mrs Khalil to the site as our guest reviewer. Heading up the library at a local school, Mrs Khalil has her finger on the pulse of everything literary, so it is no surprise she is reviewing a book as she takes on this role here at B**p. Her book of choice is Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud and here is the verdict.
The Story: This is the second book in the Lockwood & Co series. The first book The Screaming Staircase (nominated for a North East Book Award 2015) sees young Lucy hired by Anthony Lockwood who runs a small psychic investigation agency. There is an epidemic of ghosts in Britain and Lockwood with the help of his research assistant George investigates hauntings in London where they encounter various spectres – some harmless and those which are deadly and life-threatening. Lucy fits in perfectly to their small company with her psychic abilities which grow stronger by the day. The company’s successes and at times magnificent failures start to draw attention to them and at the start of The Whispering Skull they are hired to protect a graveyard from apparitions while a grave of a sinister doctor is examined. Unfortunately as often happens, it does not all go to plan when a terrifying, evil phantom is mistakenly released and a dangerous relic stolen which puts the whole of London in danger. Trying to outwit a rival agency as they investigate this unfortunate turn of events, Lockwood and his team must use all of their resources and expertise as they try to recover the lost relic before it is too late.
The Characters: The 3 main characters are Anthony Lockwood, a suave, smart and intelligent agent who owns the small company and the house where they are based. Lockwood is a weapons expert who is excellent at fighting and has a razor-sharp tongue which he uses regularly with great sarcasm. George Cubbins is a small, overweight agent whose main pleasures are food and research. He is obsessed with psychic relics and is never happier than when he is deep into his research. He has a very dry sense of humour but is fiercely loyal and trustworthy. Lucy is the youngest and newest member of the trio and has unique psychic abilities which she uses to help Lockwood in the field. Lockwood trains her and finds that she very quickly becomes invaluable to the team.
What I love about this series: The first reason why I have enjoyed these books so much is Jonathan Stroud’s style of writing. The books are very easy to get into with fast-paced, exciting action scenes combined with funny, witty dialogue. They are at times very creepy with chilling descriptions of hauntings and spectres and the story keeps you gripped as you race to find out what happens to the characters. I would recommend the books to any readers from age 11 upwards or to anybody who loves a good ghost story or thriller. Lockwood’s character reminds me of Sherlock Holmes as he has the same sophisticated, arrogant and confident demeanour about him. If you want to find out more about the series and characters then go to http://www.jonathanstroud.com/media.html
About Mrs Khalil – I have been a children’s librarian and passionate promoter of books and reading for 25 years. I love my job and can’t think of any other I would want to do. I read all of the time often 2 or 3 books at once depending on what mood I am in at the time or if one book stops me from putting it down. I am the LRC Manager of a very busy secondary school library which is located at the centre of the school and is used constantly. My favourite thing in the world is getting a young person or a reluctant reader to read a novel all the way through for the very first time and for them to come and rave about the book to me before asking for another…….