Early Book Review: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

The Whispering Skull is the second book in the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. It is currently scheduled for release on September 16, 2014. It has been six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England and Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. A team of Fittes agents always seem to be near, and Anthony challengestheml to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the paper. When Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. When Bickerstaff's coffin is 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 teams go head to head, and there is more at stake than a ad in the paper.

The Whispering Skull is a perfect follow up to The Screaming Staircase. We see more of what makes George, Lucy, and Anthony such real characters, more about their teamwork, and more troubles for each of them to face. I loved that Stroud explores how each of the very different children come together, and how each of their gifts could be great strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation and use. The adventure is high, as is the danger. Every single character is in life threatening situations again, and they each also face situations that have them doubting themselves and each other. the combination had be holding my breath on occasion, and kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to bed or starting doing my household chores. The secondary characters received a bit more depth in this book, and I am very interested to see where stroud takes the world he has created next. 

The Whispering Skull is  amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted sequel. The characters are well defined, relatable, and far from perfect. However, they face huge obstacles and come together to use their strengths and friendship to come through in the end. Stroud is definitely a must read author for the middle grade set. 

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