Lockwood & Co: The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud
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.
Last year, when I read book two, The Whispering Skull, I told myself to take the third book slowly so that I wouldn’t be quite so impatient for the next installment.
Apparently, I forgot my own advice because I could barely function for the two days I was reading this (I had to be an adult and go to work otherwise I’d have finished it in a day!).
Jonathan Stroud continues to be one of my favourite authors. His characters are sarcastic and smart, brave and bold, and realistic.
Lucy’s jealousy over new-girl Holly is understandable: Holly’s character is presented in such a way that you, as a reader, can’t help being a little suspicious of her too. Also, as a Lucy/Lockwood shipper, I was just as frustrated as Lucy whenever Lockwood seemed to express more interest in Holly’s opinions than in the stalwart Lucy’s.
George’s character has also evolved. I remember him as being more annoying in the first book, but I think he’s “growing up”. Either that, or Lucy isn’t as bothered by his quirks, which means she’s presenting him in a more favourable light than before. Sometimes I feel like George is the Ron Weasley of the group: he’s a main character and a huge part of the story, but he can sometimes be pushed into the background because of Lucy and Lockwood’s stronger personalities (no offense to either George or Ron, I love them both).
This installment also felt a little scarier. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s common knowledge that poltergeists are terrifying – and that’s exactly what Lockwood & Co are up against. Stroud’s writing continues to shine, drawing you into the story and creating vivid scenes that leave you holding your breath.
Once again, it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and while it’s not as dramatic as the end of the second book, it perfectly whets the appetite for book four (and, hopefully, a fifth book?). And, to be honest, it left me more than a little worried about Lockwood’s fate (I would not put it past Stroud to kill a main character again).