Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Whispering Skull The Whispering Skull:
Lockwood and Co. Book 2
by Jonathan Stroud

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

There’s a lot to be said for reading children’s literature, especially when it’s this good! I enjoyed The Screaming Staircase immensely, and I found The Whispering Skull to be if anything, even better than its predecessor. There’s less need to explain what’s going on in the second novel of a series and so there’s more space for story. And it’s an engrossing and exciting story, a real page-turner. It begins when something is stolen from a coffin - a very dangerous artefact; that has a nasty habit of killing anyone who looks into it. Lockwood and his friends are assigned the job of finding this missing object, which means finding who stole it, and what they’ve done with it. This brings them into contact with some interesting characters at both ends of the social spectrum of Stroud’s alternative London, not all them alive in any sense of the word… Our ensemble of lead characters grow quite a lot in this novel, especially the nerdy George. In some ways this novel belongs to George more that it does to either Lockwood or Lucy (or the eponymous Skull, for that matter). He gets a lot of good lines. Mind you, the book is full of great lines; Stroud’s humour and skill with words is a wonderful thing. Some may question the validity of a world where circumstances place young people at the forefront of a war against menacing undead spirits, but there’s a long tradition of those meddling kids defeating adult treachery throughout children’s literature. Children love to read about other kids in heroic roles… it’s an empowerment thing, and that can’t be at all bad.

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