Thursday, July 28, 2016

A fun series to end the summer?

Mohammed was right! I never thought I'd say those words, but there they are. No, not the prophet--Mohammed D. from book club! At a recent Book Café, he stood up and book-talked the Lockwood & Co. series by British author Jonathan Stroud, and his conclusion was that the series gets better with every book. After his book-talk, I read the other two books (we had read the first one for book club), and...he was absolutely right!

This series is fun and entertaining fantasy/horror based on the premise that ghosts have risen from the grave to haunt the citizens of England. They call it "the Problem," and it has caused a radical change in lifestyle for subjects of the British crown--no going out at night, extreme caution around graveyards, and surprise visitations in unlike places by otherworldly denizens. The key to solving "the Problem" is the abilities manifested by children and teens; only those under a certain age are able to see, hear, or somehow sense the "Visitors." So while all the adults are locked up snug in their beds, roving Psychic Investigation teams of children and teenagers armed with salt bombs, lavender, and iron filings (all things anathema to ghosts, shades, spirits, poltergeists, and other miscellaneous specters) are out cleansing the city of danger.

Lucy Carlyle, fresh from a ghost-hunting debacle (not her fault) in the country, arrives in London hoping for a job at one of the big agencies. Instead, she ends up accepting a position with Lockwood & Co., the company consisting of Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and now Lucy. They're small but ambitious, they think outside the box and, despite many mishaps, they all have confidence that someday they'll make it big and receive the recognition they deserve.

The first book, The Screaming Staircase, establishes the back story a bit, and then the series continues with the ghost-fighting adventures of the agency in The Whispering Skull and The Hollow Boy. I found all the characters whimsical and fun, the mysteries intriguing, the haunting scenarios honestly a bit frightening, and the world-building believable. I think readers from sixth grade onward would enjoy these books, but while appealing to the young, they are sophisticated enough in their humor and emotional content to hook anyone.

I probably should have waited to post this review until Hallowe'en, but who says you can't enjoy a good ghost story any time of the year?! Thanks, Mohammed, for the recommendation!


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