Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull Review

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

The Whispering Skull is a young adult supernatural thriller and the second book in the Lockwood & Co series. It is written by renowned young adult author Jonathan Stroud, the man behind the Bartimaeus Sequence series of books.

The synopsis for the story is:

Ghosts and ghouls beware! London’s smallest, shabbiest, and most talented psychic detection agency is back.

Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case.

Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong – a terrible phantom is unleashed, and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin.

Lockwood & Co must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it’s a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that’s not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again….

The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus sequence delivers another humorous and chilling instalment in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

©2014 Jonathan Stroud (P)2014 Random House Audiobooks

If you missed our review of the first audiobook in the series, The Screaming Staircase, please make sure you check that out before continuing.

In the second installment in the series, our three main characters are once again thrown in at the deep end and must overcome great odds to come out on top. The first book allowed you to get to know the characters and their background. You got an idea of the world they were living in. Both these elements were expertly placed in to our minds by Stroud’s brilliant writing and imagination.

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The overall story was immensely enjoyable filled with plenty of twists and turns, but with the same charm and humour that made the first book so enjoyable. The horror aspect was also taken up a notch, and not just with the ghosts! This book focused a lot more on the human characters and their devious plans. This book certainly expanded on the number of dangers that our characters had to tackle, which was a nice addition to the story. Protecting yourself from a ghost is one thing, protecting yourself from the living is a different matter all together.

The pacing of the story was once again really well done, and the blend of horror, humour and compelling storytelling made for an enjoyable listening experience. New characters come to forefront and the world that Lockwood & Co inhabit was expanded upon. Diving in to this larger world gave the story a lot more gravitas and scale.

In terms on the narration, each of the three Lockwood & Co books currently available have different narrators. This break of continuity can sometimes hinder an audiobook series. There have been times when I have been half way through a long series of stories, only for a change of author to lessen the experience (see the Skulduggery Pleasant audiobooks as an example).

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So was the swap of narrator an issue? Well, not really. Initially for the first 20 minutes or so it took some getting used to. Katie Lyons has replaced Miranda Raison from the first audiobook. Katie might be familiar to some, as she played Bird in Bluestone 42 and Naughty Rachel in Green Wing. While the narrator has changed, Katie has a very similar voice to Miranda, so it wasn’t that much of a noticeable transition. Lockwood and George’s voices were different, but once you got past the initial change it was fine. Overall Katie did a fantastic job and brought a high standard to her voice acting.

If you enjoyed the first audiobook, then you should definitely enjoying The Whispering Skull. All the good aspects from the first book remain, with some welcome additions that help enhance the enjoyment of the story even more. The plot moves along nicely and there are very few times you feel like you are standing still being bombarded with lore and backstory.

Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull is a welcome return to the world of ghosts and teenage ghost hunters.  The story is enjoyable and gripping, and you will soon find yourself binging your way through. A tantalising audiobook, that sets up the third book perfectly.

Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull is available now on Audible UK.

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