September 17, 2014

Review: The Whispering Skull

The Whispering Skull Book two of the Lockwood & Co. series
By Jonathan Stroud
Available now from Disney Hyperion
Review copy

I talked to a friend lately who was afraid to read the Lockwood & Co. series, because it might tarnish her memories of the Bartimaeus trilogy.  I understand the impulse.  You don't want to suddenly realize that the things you loved in childhood were stupid and silly and subpar.  But I tried to reassure her that there was no fear.  THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE was a wonderful ghost story that very much deserved its Cybils win.

THE WHISPERING SKULL picks up shortly after THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE leaves off.  It's been just long enough for Lucy, Lockwood, and George to get in a spot of trouble.  They might have resolved a major haunting and, in Lucy's case, made unprecedented contact with a Visitor, but they still have to pay the bills.  And there's always a chance of things going wrong when you're a group of kids facing off with the restless dead.

I liked how THE WHISPERING SKULL further developed the world of Lockwood & Co.  The divergence from our world goes on to before the dead started rising, as proved by a paranormal artifact that begins wreaking havoc.  I also felt like THE WHISPERING SKULL was much clearer about when it was set, something I had trouble with in THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE.

My main problem with THE WHISPERING SKULL is that it focuses quite a bit on George, who I find least interesting of the main trio.  I normally adore bookworm characters, but I have little patience for how he has a tendency to put others in danger.  At the same time, I like that Stroud isn't afraid to have his main characters be abrasive.  You don't have to like someone to enjoy their story.

THE WHISPERING SKULL, like THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE, leaves off with a major revelation.  It looks like the third book will explore the mysteries of Lockwood's past.  I'd be sure to read it even without that hook.  I thoroughly enjoy the spooky world of these books and Lucy's wry narration.  She's one of the practical heroines of my heart.

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