Review Blog

Dec 09 2014

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

cover image

Lockwood & Co bk 2. Doubleday Children's, 2014. ISBN: 9780857532664
(Age: 11+) Lucy Carlyle, George Cubbins and their boss, the suave Anthony Lockwood, return in another spine-chilling case for their psychic detection agency. Definitely creepier than the first volume in the series, this one will no doubt have the thrill-seekers even more firmly hooked.
The team of intrepid investigators are called in by DEPREC (Department of Psychical Research and Control, a government agency, which monitors the various agencies and works closely with the police) when a Victorian doctor's grave is disinterred from Kensal Green Cemetery. A mysterious, and dangerous, object goes missing from the coffin and a terrible phantom is released. At the same time, George has been applying all his energy to discovering more about a rare skull trapped in a glass jar - one of the many mysterious and potentially lethal objects which abound in Lockwood's dilapidated but cosy home and the company headquarters.
Once again, there is a liberal dose of humour to lighten the tension of the plot which does get fiendishly edgy frequently. The return of secondary characters from the first book, including the trio's adversaries from rival agency Fitts and particularly, the supercilious Kipps, as well as the introduction of new oddballs such as Flo Bones, a rather unfortunate 'friend' of Lockwood, brings another layer to the plot with the various interactions between groups and individuals.
Throughout the novel, Lucy's curiosity about Lockwood's reticence regarding his personal history and the upstairs room which is forbidden to both she and George, becomes more and more acute, particularly when the horrible ghost jar skull starts talking - and clearly she is the only one who can hear it's insidious words.
The ending - with the successful conclusion of the case out of the way - has a marvellous reveal which provides just the sort of segue to keep fans eager for the next instalment.
My searching indicates only that the first novel's film adaptation is currently in production stages with no release date advised but, for sure, this will be a movie that will attract a flock of ghoul-hungry viewers.
Find out more about the author and the series here and see if you have what it takes to be a psychic detection agent via the interactive game.
Sue Warren

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