Jonathan Stroud: The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2)

Jonathan Stroud: The Whispering SkullLockwood and his team returns, and their second challenge is as fresh and exciting as the first!

It is obvious at first sight: the second part is longer than the first book was, there will be more complications and adventure. Immediately in the first chapter the team fails to complete a task in a field full of ghosts, and the members of the Fittes Agency has to rescue them. So the leaders of the teams make a bet: the next time they got the same job, the loser has to publish a paid advertisement in the newspapers about the other’s greatness… Next time Lockwood and his team have to render a freshly excavated grave harmless – where they find the mirror that the book is practically about. The frame of the mirror was made from dead people’s bones, it contains ghosts, and who looks into the mirror will become mad or die instantly. This mirror attracts the attention of the local police and artifact thieves too, and after the mirror gets stolen, the police entrusts both the Lockwood and the Fittes team to find it.

This is a long and relatively complicated story, but the book keeps the freshness of the first part, and it does not get boring even after many similar ghost-hunts. And there is a crime too, because two people die during the hunt after the mirror. OK, the first guy was just curious and looked into the mirror, but the other was stabbed with a knife, and it’s almost too late when in the finish of the story Lucy finds the real killer…

I was only disappointed because this book is less humorous – there are some funny jokes, but less than in the previous one. The main characters are all the same, and they remained exciting too. The only less believable character is the new heroine, Flo, the informer girl, because it’s hard to imagine a girl so dirty even in this strange, alternative London full of ghosts in the night. At least the skull in the glass from the title is a nice guy, he is a property of Lockwood & Co, and George had wanted to make it talk a long ago, without any success. But when the mirror is stolen, the skull starts to talk to Lucy, and it admits that he had wanted to research it too, at least in his life… So he guides the team through the investigation, but without any concern for whether they survive or not…

So the team visits a stylish ball, a canal, many abandoned houses, they explore the illegal trading of dangerous objects, and in the end they return to the same cemetery where the mirror was found to solve the mystery. The end of the book is a little disappointing, because the story is not consistent here: among all the characters, only the member of the Lockwood team will survive to look into the mirror. And the bet is a bet, I didn’t expect so much charity from the winner…

Jonathan Stroud: The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014.

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