Lucy, our main character, is just another teenager in London with the Talent. Doing what teenagers all around Britain do since the Problem started: hunting ghosts.
These aren’t any ordinary ghosts, though: they’re out to kill. And since it’s the children who can see them, it’s the children who are on the front lines. Generally, they’re supervised by adults who were formerly Talented. But not at Lockwood & Co. It’s just Anthony Lockwood, George and Lucy, teenagers and ghost fighters extraordinaire.
Being a Jonathan Stroud book, everything is not as simple as it looks. Lucy and George constantly bicker, and Lockwood is more optimistic about the future of his company than he is actually capable of running it. But the three of them are talented ghost fighters, and even though they’re not exactly careful, they get the job done.
Then, on a routine clearing, Lockwood and Lucy stumble on a particularly fierce ghost. It turns out that it was Annabel Ward, a socialite and actress who was murdered and shoved into a chimney. This captures Lucy’s imagination and she ropes the boys into helping her figure out what, exactly, happened to Annabel 50 years ago. One of the best things about this book is the way Stroud handles the mystery: he gives us enough clues as we go along to make a good guess, but it also isn’t the only element to the book. Neither is the ghost Problem. There are enough layers and depth in this book to keep even the most reluctant of readers interested.
And even though it takes a good two-thirds of the book to get to the point where the title came from, it all comes together splendidly (fantastically, I might add) at the end.
It’s not just good. It’s brilliant.
Rated: Moderate for intensity, gore, and death, as well as being just plain scary. There are also a few mild swear words.