Review Blog

Nov 20 2015

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

cover image

Lockwood & Co., bk 3. Corgi Books, 2015. ISBN 9780552573146
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Fantasy. Ghosts. Horror. Lockwood & Co are back in another exciting adventure following the first two books in the series, The screaming staircase and The whispering skull. Ghostly phenomena is growing in an alarming way in Chelsea, but Lockwood, Lucy and George haven't been asked to help out. Instead they are faced with minor apparitions until Holly, the new assistant gets them a job with an influential woman. Then they have to all work together to face their toughest job yet.
This series just keeps getting better. Lots of ghosts, thrills, adventure and depth of characterisation make it a stand out read. Once again it is narrated in Lucy's voice. When she returns from a brief holiday visiting her family, she discovers that Lockwood has employed Holly Munro, a girl who is everything that Lucy isn't - tidy, organised and beautifully dressed. Lucy finds it hard going to even be polite to Holly, let alone manage the overwhelming desire that she has to talk to the ghosts that they encounter, instead of eliminating them immediately. Of course, this is alright when the ghost has a benign reason to talk, but when the ghost is vicious, then it puts everyone into danger. The skull that only Lucy can hear doesn't help with its insidious comments.
Lucy is also obsessed with finding out what has happened to Lockwood's sister, and gradually the reader begins to learn some more about Lockwood. The reference to 'The hollow boy' is intriguing and keeps the reader thinking about the characters, long after the book is finished.
Of course, amongst the angst and differences between the characters, there is adventure galore, as the group battle deadly ghosts with their rapiers, salt and iron. Readers familiar with Chelsea in London will enjoy imagining the department store that is taken over by the spectral apparitions, and there are many heart stopping moments especially for Lucy as the team faces down dire ghouls.
I really enjoyed The hollow boy. Stroud builds an exceptional adventure with a great cast of young protagonists. He also leaves the reader breathless and waiting for the next in the series, with an unexpected cliff hanger conclusion.
Pat Pledger

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