Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud

Ah, ghosts. That most mysterious and my favorite of all Halloween creatures. They are so often over looked when it comes to creatures to write about. Everyone wants to tackle vampires and werewolves and here ghosts are, a spectral being that could be almost anything and possesses more unanswered questions than any other, waiting to be written. Mr. Stroud here took on the task of making a proper ghost story. How'd he do? Let's take a look.

The story takes place in England where the country has been taken over by a Problem, that being the world is full of ghosts. Ghosts have become something of a plague in this world, tormenting and sometimes killing the people of England. To fight this spectral epidemic, multiple companies of young children who have the ability to see, hear, even communicate with ghosts are armed to the teeth with silver rapiers, iron chains, and all manner of ghosts fighting materials to eliminate the supernatural pests. One of these companies is Lockwood & Co., run by the eccentric Anthony Lockwood. When one job ends in disaster, Lockwood and his crew take on an expensive job to discover the secrets of the Red Room and the Screaming Staircase in one of the most haunted locations in the country.

Okay, I really, really, really wanted to like this book more than I did. The world that the author creates is so well done. It's creative, well established, and it's clear that the author paid good attention to ghost lore in general. Lockwood & Co. consists of three young ghost hunters; Lockwood, Lucy, and George. All these characters are likable, memorable, and just well written. Lockwood is the kind of guy I'd follow in a heartbeat. You can tell that he'd just three steps ahead of everyone and really cares about his crew. They're all really great.

So, what's my problem? It's simple. It. Is. BORING! I'm really sorry to say it...but it's so boring! Every time I tried to read it I just felt my eyelids slide and my attention float away. The world building is good but it just goes on for so long, and the action is so few and far in between and so little happens between major events that, yeah, I couldn't focus on it. I got tired every time I read it and that is NOT something you want to happen when you've still got three hours of work to go in the wee hours of the morning!

I think the way this book is set up kind of contributes to this problem. It's starts with a bang but then it takes forever for anything to happen again. The pace of the story is just off and all over the place. Also, while the world is well set up and I liked it, it also adds to the problem of the book. It's over detailed. It goes on and on about these details when there's a glossary in the back of the book that explains ALL of this that you can just look at if you get lost. But since the book explains everything anyway, the glossary is pointless.

Finally, the story contains a mystery involving a ghost trapped in a locket and the company is trying to figure out who she is and why she stuck around. Lockwood and his friends are the first to try and do this and, once again, it's a good idea that's marred by a predictably boring resolution. You know the answer to the mystery almost immediately and it's a bit of a disappointment.

Final Verdict
I feel bad for not liking this more. There is some solid, good ideas in the book, but it's just ruined by boring exposition, a slow pace, and a predictable ending. The good stuff is still there thought and, if you don't think that this stuff will bother you, definitely check it out at your local library.

Did you read the book? What did you think? Do you want to read the book now? Any other cool ghost books out there? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Next Time: How do you make the one of the most terrifying tyrants of all time even scarier? Give him a period.

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