Monday 8 September 2014

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

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.

The sequel to The Screaming Staircase, it continues with the main story of Lockwood, Lucy and George as they tackle the Problem and six months later they are still living off the successful reputation they gained from that case. However, it can't last long because, well, because they're them. So when they run into Kipps' team while making a fool of themselves, let's say they were embarrassed. 

It included everything I remember and loved about the first one, a great and slightly terrifying plot, weird and wonderful characters and of course the creepiness of a talking floating skull in a jar. So, the group is hired to find out what the heck is going on with an old Victorian grave. Problem is, they have no idea why the coffin was lined with iron, or why there is no proper documentation of his death, or what on earth that weird mirror thing is that was buried with him. Oh and of course they are working against the clock before Kipps and his team find it first and win the bet. So a lot to get done in only a few days! 

It was all very funny and full of awkward little moments bundled in with some serious ghost fighting skills. Oh and I finally realised who Lockwood reminds me of: the Doctor! The manic energy, the almost-rude remarks, the odd moments of collective calm and of course the secrets.With everything going on, between Lockwood's weirdness, the Fittes's crew and George maybe being ghost-touched, things are looking bleak. But they wouldn't be the heroes if they failed and although it was close at the end, my heart was literally in my throat, they made it through and saved the day. 

Published 25th September 2014 by Doubleday. Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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