The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

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In the second installment of the Lockwood and Co. series, George, Lockwood, and Lucy are enjoying the success of their venture with the Screaming Staircase. However, though they have a steady number of contracts, the trio still isn’t taken seriously by the rest of the ghost-hunting world. When the team stumbles upon a mysterious grave and artifact at a haunting site, George’s curiosity is peaked. But, in his investigation, George awakens a malevolent spirit bent on revenge. Before the spirit completes its mission, the Lockwood team must stop the phantom and uncover the real mystery of the haunting.

I can’t lie — I expected a lot more from the second Lockwood book. The first one was just so good! And, this one isn’t bad, it just didn’t live up to my hopes. To me, the plot read rather weakly, and I wanted much more from the mystery. However, while the story itself was lacking, there were some bright spots. Many of the characters are great — I especially liked Flo and the Whispering Skull. There are also plenty of scary/suspenseful scenes. If you liked the first Lockwood, give this one a try. You may love it!

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

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The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

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Britain has a ghost problem. Beset by spirits once the sun goes down, the people of England employ teenage ghost hunters in order to be free of their nightly visitors. Lucy Carlyle is one such hunter. Having lost her position at a high-ranking ghost-extermination firm, Lucy finds herself working for the eccentric and reckless Anthony Lockwood. Unfortunately, after accidentally burning a client’s house down, the firm finds itself in financial (and legal) trouble. Lockwood and Co. needs a case, and a big one, in order to save their reputation and continue hunting ghosts. Luckily, one such case comes along. Unluckily, everyone who has attempted to solve the case has died in the process.  

I loved this one! Think British Ghostbusters with teenagers. It’s got great ghost stories, plenty of scares, an excellent mystery, and is just all-around awesome. What really impressed me was that this book managed to pull off being so entertaining without having a love story. So, if you’re not a fan of “mushy” books, give this one a read for sure. Though the storyline can occasionally lose focus, the mystery is interesting enough that it makes up for the meandering. The ending is a total cliff-hanger as well, so, if you love it, make sure you reach for the next in the series. I definitely will!

*Lonestar List, 2014

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.