I was first introduced to Jonathan Stroud's writing through his Bartimaeus Trilogy and instantly fell in love with Bartimaeus' quick wit and sarcastic humor. So, it should be no surprise that I've been eagerly awaiting The Hollow Boy's release. I'm also a big fan of Fall, with the changing colors of the leaves, cooler temperatures, and especially Halloween. What better way to celebrate all of these things than my favorite writers spooky ghost story?
"As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests against the psychic agencies throughout London, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness between the team now that Anthony has shared his childhood story, and Lucy is feeling more and more like her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.'s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes's and Rotwell's lives. Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure."
One of the things that I've come to expect from Stroud's Lockwood & Co. series is that I will find a suspenseful, spooky atmosphere, snarky side character and an adept ghost hunting trio. What I wasn't expecting was a story that left me with more questions than answers and an ending that makes me wish that the next book was already available for purchase.
Lockwood & Co. has certainly undergone some changes since we last saw them in The Whispering Skull. Each of the cases that the trio go on keep getting scarier and more sinister. From the bloody footprints leading up the staircase, to the attack during the parade float, to the lurker in the department store. The action just keeps getting more and more intense. Which I love by the way. I think Hollow Boy is veering toward the young adult, but easily could be read by someone a bit younger who is a bit more mature and enjoys ghost stories. Lockwood has finally been opening up about his past to Lucy and George, even sharing some information about the room that is usually off limits. Lucy seems to have found a home at Lockwood Manor and they're becoming closer friends. Sounds perfect right? Then Lockwood has to go and hire Holly Munro to help them get organized and efficient. Ugh, as a team they worked so well together, now they're becoming unpredictable and she seems to become this wedge between Lucy and Lockwood. I wasn't really excited about the direction that I saw this going, big changes to the team, slight jealousy and all, but Holly kinda grew on me. I think mostly because Lucy was able to see new sides to her too. What really intrigued me though was the disembodied head in a jar (he really needs a name) and I loved how much he reminded me of Bartimaeus. I still feel like there is so much more to know about this seriously lacking head without morals. How did he end up in the jar? Why does he help Lucy? And what secrets is he still hiding? Some of these were alluded to, but I feel like we will learn more about the head in the jar in the next book. I also think that despite learning more about how Lucy is able to connect with ghosts on an emotional level there will be so much more explained, as well as why she can communicate with the disembodied head. And all the things that Lucy learns about while in the thing (Chapter 23, I'm looking at you, ahh). I want to know so much more, but alas will have to wait. No spoilers from me. Overall, these books just keep getting better and better. Keep them coming!