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BOOK REVIEW:

The creeping shadow

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Jonathan Stroud's Lockwood & Co. series is terrific with arresting content, covers and titles. Even though written primarily for children (Remember The Harry Potter series was written for kids too.), teens and adults will thrill to each installment. Thus far the series is comprised of The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy and this recent installment, The Creeping Shadow. These are masterful tales of adventure and horror that are perfect for a quiet night in, but leave all the lights on.

The series is set in England where the country has been plagued by ghosts for fifty years. There is a twist, if the ghosts touch you, you die. The problem is that adults cannot see the ghosts, therefore it is up to the children to save their communities. The Psychic Investigation Agencies, mostly run by adults, have sprung up, and are outfitted with children who carry swords and other equipment to take down ghosts and ghouls. It's a very frightening type of Ghostbusters. In the first novel we meet Lucy Carlyle who, in search of ghost hunting work with one of the big agencies, moves to London. She instead ends up with a smaller agency, led by Anthony Lockwood, a dashing and astute teen. He works with George Cubbins, whose focus is on research and preparation.

Lucy, Anthony and George embark on a series of adventures in all of the novels, each peeling back layers of backstory, filled with tension, humor and a surrounding cast of characters, including a skull with a dry wit, whose presence will make a terrifying impression on all readers. It is unique how each character brings a special talent to the table. All three can see ghosts, as can any child, but Anthony excels at it as well as being an extremely skilled and quick-thinking fighter. George is the brains, the one who makes sure everyone’s prepared for the mission, and Lucy's talent lies in how she is able to hear the ghosts and learn even more about them through touching objects.

Although these can be read out of order, it's best to embark on Lockwood and Co.'s adventures by reading the first novel. The most recent novel, The Creeping Shadow, has the team careening around London trying to save one of their precious objects while battling masses of suspicious ghosts in a small town outside of London. The conclusion to this installment sets the next story up to be the best yet, where more secrets will be unfolded and more adventures will be had.

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