Review: The Whispering Skull

October 3, 2014 book review 2 ★★★★½

Review: The Whispering SkullThe Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Horror & Ghost Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult

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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 Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud is book #2 in the Lockwood & Co. series. If you haven’t read The Screaming Staircase, you really must. If you like mystery, thrills, ghosts, and a cast of witty and extremely smart characters, you’ll love this series. I certainly do! Need some convincing? Read my review of The Screaming Staircase!

In the latest installment, Lockwood, Lucy, and George find themselves in a race against their rivalry agency to solve a crime, murder, and thievery, all at once. They have been contracted by DEPRAC to find a missing mirror that was stolen from a notorious man’s grave. While the two agencies don’t want to work together, they figure it’s a great opportunity to see who really is the best agency in London.

Like The Screaming Staircase, this book starts out with a super intriguing night with Lucy, George, and Lockwood while they hunt down a haunted Source. Per typical Lockwood & Co. fashion, things don’t go exactly as planned. Some trouble arises but the crew is quick on their feet and don’t let a stressful situation worry them. Also in the fashion of The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull waited until at least chapter 3 before it gave us some background information. I remember mostly everything I had read in TSS but my details about the different types of ghosts and methods for banishing them was a little fuzzy. Towards the end of chapter 3 is also where Stroud sums up what happened in the previous book and goes into detail each character’s personality, skills, and weaknesses. This section, while helpful, was a little boring and broke up the excitement that just ensued with the agents out in the field. I wanted the action and suspense to keep going! If all the summing up and reintroduction of the characters happened more at the beginning I probably would’ve been a little bit happier. After that, though, we are back in action!

That’s one of the things I love about this series, the thrill and action. Every chapter keeps you invested in the story. Every chapter you want to know what happens next. Just about every chapter you’re on the edge of the seat. And every chapter has you trying to figure out the mystery. Stroud definitely delivers. The gang had no idea what happened to the mirror and what it actually does. As the secrets of the creator of the mirror come to surface, it becomes more apparent, and dire, that Lockwood & Co. get to it before something bad happens. I had a feeling about who took it but I was never 100% sure, especially the why part.

There’s a lot to this story that I want to discuss but I try to keep these things as spoiler free as possible, especially if you haven’t read the previous book. Just know that The Whispering Skull has all the elements that I loved about The Screaming Staircase and upped the thrill and mystery even more. I can’t wait to see what the crew gets into next! Now go read this series!!

4.5 Thought Clouds

4.5 Thought Clouds


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