The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud Book Review

Overview: Whispering Skull teaches us the value of friendship. Trust was established among the major characters but not before they get in arguments and fall in situations where they test out each other's strengths and weaknesses and eventually, help each other improve. And hence, the dynamism. The plot thickens and the world-building was more profound than ever. And Lucy is now revealed before the Fittes agency to have the greatest gift a Physic agent could ever have: to be able to communicate with a type 3 ghost.

In this 2nd installment of Lockwood and Co., Jonathan Stroud stayed true with his writing. He never faltered with the pace and the awesomeness of the series when it comes to his style. The Screaming Staircase was great and The Whispering Skull keeps up with it. As for which of the 2 books is better? I couldn't tell. Both are great and on par with each other. Just by this 2nd book alone, I can say that this is one helluva book series even when the target market are middle graders. I recommend this to kids of all ages.

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Ghosts
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood and Co. #2
Date Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Size: 435
Edition: Kindle Edition

goodreads amazon

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper. Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well—until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

Further Review:
I've got an ARC via Netgalley last July. I've read this last August but suffering from book slump made me make a review 3 months later! So it might be that I'm forgetting what I have to say about the book. But I was able to save one quote and that got me going which is nice.

If The Screaming Staircase started dull, The Whispering Skull started straight in the middle action. Oh yes, the first book started in the middle of action too but it was much of a lecture since it's the first installment of a great series called Lockwood and Co. This second book felt much in advance now that I wanted to be tutored back for some terminology of this book.

The delivery of the story was great. Action first and then Lucy gets to talk about some development in the story for the past year before opening up about the cliffhanger from the first book which was the whispering skull.
Oh come on. You love all that mystery about him. Just like you love that pensive, far-off look he does sometimes, as if he's brooding about important matters, or contemplating a tricky bowel movement. Don't try to deny it. I know.
I love how the author could put humor in places appropriately. This book is dark and brooding in nature (what do you expect about ghost stories?) and yet teeming with fun! You expect the angst with teenagers but the characters here are somewhat too mature for that (the kids have to grow too soon)... except for that other group (Kipps') that the Lockwood and Co. get to throw elbows with for one client.

I don't want to talk about what really transpired or else I might risk spoiling. But basically these are some of the things you'd come across the book:
  • Something similar with Justin Finch-Fletchey's encounter with the Basilisk in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
And just like before, Lockwood would always end his conversation in a cliffhanger, which reminds me of the manga Another wherein while someone is explaining things, at a crucial moment he gets interrupted. This is a very effective literary device.
An agent and a relic-man both had psychic Talent; but while an agent used his to protect society from Visitors, the relic-man give this no thought at all.
I have learned of new things whereas others are forgotten: the relic-man. I like how fictional stories make use of what really there is in life. Just like in the film, Pacific Rim, there exists a black market in Lockwood and Co. where relics which are also Sources (items where Visitors or ghosts spring from) are sold to the highest bidder.

I noticed some parts of the book where the author jumps from the first-person perspective to the third just for what he thinks is an effective delivery of narration which makes me confounded in the middle of the paragraph, and only on a third on the way makes me realize I was already of out the POV of Lucy. Other than that, the writing was seamless. So for those who don't know yet, the book is written in the POV of the female protagonist, Lucy.

Here's a review of the first book: The Screaming Staircase.

We love to hear from you


More from Zirev