Ghosts and ghouls beware! London's smallest, shabbiest and most talented psychic detection agency is back.
Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case.
Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong - a terrible phantom is unleashed, and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin.
Lockwood & Co must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it's a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that's not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again...
This may actually be the first book that I have ever read in my life that presents the story from the perspective of a female. And i'm not talking "that time of the month" or "kissing boys" stories. An actual story that follows the girl and not the guy. Where the girl contributes to the progression of the plot without the need for romantic interests and emotional blowouts. So congratulations to Jonathan Stroud for breaking stereotypes, and allowing a woman to take the helm in the male-dominated world of book protagonists.
This really was an interesting read. The second book in the 'Lockwood and Co.' series, it becomes apparent very quickly that the majority of the characters in the story have a lot of history together. While Stroud has tried well to provide subtle actions and reactions to explain the friction between many of the characters, without reading the previous book, it takes most of the book to fully appreciate the relationships between the characters.
The underlying universe that Lockwood and Co. live in is quite intriguing; a world that has for an unknown reason developed a 'Problem' of the spirits of the dead coming back and seeking vengeance. A supernatural theme that isn't vampires and wolves is refreshing, and entire society of agents and talents, is very diverse and can provide a wealth of directions for future plots.
Despite the size of the book and some of the themes, it seems that the target audience would be young adult, with the majority of the main characters being aged in their teen years. Set out like a supernatural detective story, Lockwood and Co. take on a very 'Sherlock Holmes' role, fulfilling the non-conforming, rule-breaking, yet intellectually talented individuals, who must pool their talents to successfully solve the crime.
This story is reasonably elaborate. While it does generally follow one plotline at a time, there are a multitude of subplots on the sidelines waiting to be picked up right when you forget they are there. Rather fast-paced, I found myself staying up until midnight, reading, despite having to get up at 5am for work. Definitely a good book to read, even though it has a reasonably predictable end.
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As she unpacks in her new bedroom, Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house that she can see out of her window. Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences, and "keep out" signs, it looks derelict.
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