In Jonathan Stroud’s new Lockwood & Co. series, England has a Problem with Visitors. Calling it The Problem is a bit of an understatement. The dead are refusing to stay dead, and these ghostly Visitors are attacking the living. Adults can not see or sense the the spirits. So they cower indoors after curfew leaving the fight to more sensitive children and teenagers.
Lucy Carlyle’s talent is hearing ghosts and sensing them through objects. After a misadventure in her home village, she heads to London hoping to start over. She joins the Lockwood & Co. Psychic Investigations agency. The agency is owned and run by Anthony Lockwood, a young man not much older than her. She, Anthony, and fellow operative George aren’t the most successful investigators in London, but they get by. In this first volume of the series, they learn a few key lessons:
- Try to avoid burning down your employer’s house when you are putting the resident ghost to rest.
- The offer of help to save the agency from bankruptcy that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
While this book does not have the same level of snarky humor as the Bartimaeus series, Stroud does use sarcasm and wry humor to excellent effect. However, this is a darker, more violent series. The ghosts are genuinely dangerous and the situations frightening. Thoughts of the encounter in the Red Room still send shivers up my spine. For that reason, I would recommend the Lockwood & Co. series for slightly older readers, though younger fans of horror will definitely enjoy the story.
I found myself completely hooked by this story within pages. Later, when I unexpectedly found myself with time on my hands and no books to read, I realized I still had the galley on my phone. Within moments of starting it a second time, I was completely sucked in again! For me it had the right combination of characters and plot with just the right amount of horror.
(Review of a digital galley courtesy of Disney-Hyperion through NetGalley.)