Lockwood & Co.: The Creeping Shadow
I am sad to admit that Lockwood and Co: The Creeping Shadow was my first foray into Stroud’s Lockwood books. I absolutely adore his Bartimaeus series. Stroud has a true gift for weaving tales of gritty magic and stringent societies, complete with strong females and witty (if enslaved) sidekicks.
Lucy Carlyle is a freelancer agent in a world where only children have the psychic sight to see spirits. Lucy, and child agents like her, respond to calls of hauntings armed with the tools to fight against them. They must find and dispose of the hauntings’ Sources, and a whole industry has sprung up to support agents in dealing with the ever-growing threat of ghostly invasion. There are the agencies, run by adult supervisors, a vast furnace complex to burn the Sources, and entities such as the Orpheus Society that are working on new weapons and tools to stay the tide.
When Lucy teams up with Lockwood and Co, her old agency and the only one fully run by youths, to tackle the haunting of the Ealing Cannibal, she gets far more than she bargained for. In the aftermath of the case, Lucy’s prize ghost-jar, containing a Type Three spirit that only she can speak with, is stolen. Attempts to retrieve her erstwhile companion lead to the discovery of a black market for powerful Sources and, beyond that, a plot so sinister Lockwood and Co can scarce countenance it. By the time they are done, one agency will be in shambles, and they will have earned some fearsome enemies.
After reading this book, I went out and snagged the others in the series. I love British writers in general, and Stroud in particular. This book can certainly be read as a stand-alone, though. Enough backstory is given via dialogue and mental processing. So delicately is it woven in that you won’t even realize you’ve missed other books before it, if you didn’t know ahead of time.
The tone of this book was a little different from Stroud’s Bartimaeus series. It was a little less formal. I must admit, I do believe I like this series more than Bartimaeus, though I still love that one, too. The pacing seems quicker. There’s always some action going on. My only puzzlement is in regards to the occasional swapping of American words with British ones. If you don’t know “chips” and “fries” or “biscuits” and “cookies” refer to the same thing, this could be confusing. It does not happen often, and I only noticed it with foods.
Perfect for fans of Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy, Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and books such as Susanne Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell.