MG Fantasy/Paranormal Review: The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud
The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud Format: Hardcover Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Number of Pages: 464 Published: September 13th, 2016 Source: Purchased
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
First lines: "I knew at once, when I slipped into the moonlit office and eased the door shut behind me, that I was in the presence of the dead."
**There may be spoilers, so be forewarned**
Jonathan Stroud has been my go-to author when I want something atmospheric and spooky with just a dash of suspense. I absolutely love the way he writes his snarky characters, like Bartimaeus from his other series and the ghost skull in the jar (I'm still hoping for a name for this guy someday). I'm always eagerly awaiting the release of the next book, and they are my favorite books to read, especially with Halloween approaching. The Hollow Boy was the most recent book in the series and found the crew of Lockwood & Co. fracturing. Lockwood had hired a new agent, Holly Munro and things were changing. New secrets were being revealed by our mysterious skull and Lockwood began opening up about his past, and let Lucy and George into the room that he normally kept locked up tight. We learned about the circumstance behind Lockwood's sister's death. Lucy began to understand her abilities better, starting to connect with the ghosts and speak with them. Which leads us to Lucy getting a glimpse of how she might be the cause of someone's death, so at the end of the book she decides to leave the agency.
The Creeping Shadow begins as Lucy is seeking jobs as a freelance, for hire operative. Which introduces a whole bunch of new characters, mostly fellow operatives from the rival ghost hunting team of Fittes and the Rotwell agency. There are also some interesting power struggles going on between these two agencies. Lucy is still reaching out to ghosts to speak to them, risky because they are ghosts which can be unpredictable, but at least her heart is in the right place. The disembodied talking head in a jar is still present and the bantering between the two is just adorable. Yeah, I said it, adorable. In the Creeping Shadow, we see this bond that Lucy and the skull have formed strengthening.
"Its nostrils dilated; I heard a dismissive sniff. Like you care a bean what I think." I looked around the moonlit kitchen, silent, seemingly innocuous, but drenched in evil. "Dear old skull. I do care, and I'm asking you as a ...as a..." "I detect hesitation, " the skull said. "As a friend?" I scowled. "Well, no. Obviously not." "As a respected colleague, then?" "Even that would be stretching it. No, I'm asking you as someone who genuinely values your opinion, despite your wicked nature, your vicious temperament, and my better judgment." The face regarded me. "Ooh, okay...I see you're going for the virtues of simple honesty here, rather than the honeyed words of flattery. Correct?" "Yes." "Well, go boil your backside in a bucket. It's not good enough. You're not getting a word of wisdom out of me."
Despite being successful as an independent contractor, Lucy began to realize how lonely she is, how much she missed being at Lockwood & CO. How much she misses Lockwood. Skull does fill her day with their bantering and the two seem to depend on each other, but it isn't enough. I've grown fond of Skull's character, his snide comments, bantering and it amuses me that even he shreaks at the presence of a phantom. I also enjoyed that skull was taking a more active role in assisting Lucy during her cases and they kinda work well as a team, he even proposes that they form their own agency, Skull and Caryle. Now wouldn't that be something? Then Lockwood shows up at Lucy's door wanting to hire her for a case for the Fittes Agency, they need someone with her adept listening skills, which she hesitantly agrees to just this one case. The team successfully find and remove a source at Solomon Guppy's house, but Lucy also uncovers that DARPC might not be cremating the remains of the sources they receive, but instead releasing them. When Lockwood and Lucy start spending time together, skull also shows his jealousy of Lockwood and his contempt for Holly, you kinda wonder what he would do to Lockwood if he ever made it out of that jar. Skull's affection toward Lucy would be really sweet if he wasn't a ghost skull in a jar. There was this one moment where I also started to get an eerie feeling, especially since Stroud seemed to be setting up these awkward, butterfly-inducing moments between Lucy and Lockwood and I couldn't help thinking that one of them was going to get hurt, darn that ghost glimpse of a possible future. Happily, everyone kept all their fingers and toes at the end of the book. Once back to her freelance work, Lucy finds her apartment is broken into and skull is stolen, she returns to Lockwood for his help and protection. Lucy and Lockwood make an attempt to rescue skull, but end up finding themselves in the middle of a black market dealing in dangerous sources and uncover possible shady workings at the Rotwell Institute. There were so many developments and surprises in this book and I'm trying really hard to minimize the spoilers, but that Spirit Cape and glasses add a whole new dynamic to the story and might just be the answer to what will happen as operatives move into adulthood and they lose their psychic abilities. I'm so hooked on this series if you couldn't already tell, and really can't wait for the next one. Why isn't this being made into a movie already?