Review

Review: The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1.5) by Jonathan Stroud

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m never sure about reviewing novellas and short stories. Sometimes I don’t feel I have enough to say about them, or that I will have developed enough of a sense of the book in such a small number of pages. Luckily, I am already familiar with the universe of Lockwood & Co having absolutely loved the two books written by Jonathan Stroud so far, and The Dagger in the Desk just leaps straight into the action.

What I didn’t realise until after I’d read the book is that it was written over six days, with help from members of the Guardian newspaper’s children’s website, who voted on the name, location and the ghost. My initial thought, before reading this, was that it would most likely appeal to the target audience even more, due to being set in a school. It’s definitely something that would have appealed to me when I was younger, having to miss school due to a haunting!

Despite the very short nature of the book, Jonathan Stroud proves that he is a master storyteller by building up the tension in only a few pages. What I’ve always found surprising about this series is that despite being aimed at Middle Grade and above, it is actually genuinely creepy in some places – and this novella was no exception. Even though the case is over and done with rather quickly, Stroud provides some eerie moments and a memorable ghostly foe.

The book was even shorter than expected, with a handy guide to the ghouls Lockwood, George and Lucy encounter through the series, as well as a sample of The Screaming Staircase. Definitely worth checking out for fans of Lockwood & Co who just can’t wait for book number three – such as myself!

Misc.

Horror October: Horror Books Read This Year

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For today’s Horror October post, I wanted to share the books I’ve read this year that fit the theme – some are horror, others more thrillers, others just plain creepy!

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is definitely one of my highlights of the year! I’d been anticipating this sequel to The Shining ever since I first read about it, before the cover was even released. Hodder sent me a review copy earlier in the year, and it was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve already read The Shining then hurry up and read this!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is not so much a traditional horror, it is really a thriller, but it shows just how horrific humans can be to each other. It’s hard to say much about this book without giving anything away, so I won’t! I’m looking forward to seeing the film of this one too.

  • My rating for Gone Girl: [simple-rating stars=”four-stars”]

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz

The Three by Sarah Lotz was an interesting read. It was told entirely from interviews, newspaper articles and other sources of media. Unfortunately its format meant I had no connection whatsoever to any of the characters, and the ending was just incredibly frustrating.

The Quick (The Quick #1) by Lauren Owen

The Quick by Lauren Owen

The Quick was also another unique novel: wonderfully Gothic and rather slow paced. I took a while to read this one for various reasons so I think it might need a re-read at some point, but I enjoyed it a lot. I also had the privilege of meeting the author, Lauren Owen, in April, and definitely made a fool of myself. Oops.

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy had me super excited – it was a werewolf novel with a twist and had such wonderful reviews. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t agree with them. The writing was wonderful but the story just felt… lacking. Also it promised me a good scare and just didn’t deliver!

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris was another disappointment. I really love her Southern Vampire Mysteries series (or the True Blood books if you prefer), even if the last few just felt like a chance to make some easy money. So I was hoping a new series would be a new start, and whilst Midnight Crossroad wasn’t bad, there was nothing special about it.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is another one that’s had great reviews, but I just didn’t get along with. Too many vampires and falling for the bad boy, ugh… The concept of the Coldtowns was original, but vampires? So overdone right now… It does have one of the most horrific opening scenes I’ve ever read though.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey is hard to explain in terms of the horror genre without giving away some big plot points. I definitely wasn’t expecting the horror element when I started reading it, and it’s definitely a memorable part… I read it with my Goodreads book group and it was pretty well received!

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud is one of my stand-out books of the year. I wasn’t expecting to love it so much, but it pulled me right in. It may be aimed at younger readers but it is SO amazing. Think a mix of Sherlock and Supernatural, with teenage protaganists.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any horror recommendations based on what you’ve read this year?

Review

Review: The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co #2) by Jonathan Stroud

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I first encountered this series at the beginning of the year, the first book being The Screaming Staircase and absolutely loved it. There was no question about whether to request the second book from Netgalley or not, regardless of my ridiculous pile of books to review! And luckily, The Whispering Skull definitely lived up to my expectations.

Set six months after the previous book, The Whispering Skull leaps straight into the action: Lockwood & Co have had a run of successful jobs and things are looking up. More and more clients are approaching them for help and for once they don’t feel like they have to compete with other agencies. That’s until a strange and powerful Source is stolen, and Lockwood, Lucy and George are back in competition with the other agencies, as well as in a race against time, to retrieve it. As before, some scenes were actually genuinely creepy and gave me the chills – but combined with the wonderful sense of humour that I’ve come to expect.

A fast-paced read, the writing just flows off the page – although that may be something to do with the intended younger audience – and the exciting moments just keep coming. I felt that the story was perhaps less atmospheric than The Screaming Staircase, but much of the atmosphere of the first book was created by setting up the story and the changes from the world as we know it.

The publisher describes this book as aimed at ‘middle grade’ readers, but as someone in my twenties I have to say I absolutely LOVE this series. It’s a fabulous mix of ghost novel and detective story, with characters you’ll just love. Lockwood is still an enigma, very much a Sherlock type character, and I can imagine him being a bit of a heart-breaker when he gets older. Lucy is the witty and occasionally sarcastic narrator, with George as the brains but also the comic relief. Were I actually within the age range for this book, I can definitely say that the idea of these teens running their own agencies and living alone, without adults, would be a high point!

If you’re looking for something a little bit creepy, but don’t feel quite ready to delve into some serious horror novels, I would definitely recommend giving Lockwood & Co a try.

Review

Review: Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) by Stephen King

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Ever since I heard that Stephen King was writing a sequel to The Shining, I knew I would have to get my hands on a copy somehow. And then, lo and behold, the wonderful Hodder sent me a copy to review! I apologise for how long it took for me to finally get around to reading and reviewing it, but it was most definitely worth the wait.

If you’re not familiar with The Shining, I would definitely advise reading it before moving on to Doctor Sleep. Whilst it’s not necessary to have read it and I think you would have no issues following the story, it adds so much more depth. Echoes of moments in The Shining, similar scenes and lines come back to haunt the reader. Despite there being over thirty years between the events of the first book, and the final events of Doctor Sleep, the two books felt so interconnected in many ways.

This is definitely one of those books that’s difficult to review, in that you don’t want to stop and make notes – you want to just keep on reading. One of my best friends mentioned that it was one of those books she just couldn’t stop reading and there wasn’t a dull moment – when someone says something like that you know you have to check for yourself, and she was definitely right. Although I didn’t find it as creepy as The Shining (it was the topiary that got me last time), there was a constant eerie undertone and real sense of danger, to both Abra and Dan.

Speaking of Abra, she could have been a precocious and annoying little kid, with these strange talents to show off, but instead she was witty and mature, if a little naive at times. But that was good, it kept her grounded and reminded the reader that she was just a child. And as for Dan, I felt the book was a really interesting exploration into a character who was created over thirty years ago and not necessarily intended to have a sequel.

Considering that I haven’t been making much time for reading lately, this was definitely the right book to get me back into the swing of things. With a highly original concept, creepy undertones and some great characters, it definitely deserves five stars in my book – but could we expect anything less from Mr. Stephen King?

Review

Review: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb alone, you wouldn’t necessarily know this was a book featuring werewolves. You may be able to guess from the title, but it’s not immediately obvious. And the reason that I say a book featuring werewolves, rather than a werewolf book, is because there is so much more to the story than the fact that werewolves exist in this world. It’s less about the paranormal elements, and more of a commentary on the state of the world, how judgmental people can be when they find out someone is a little ‘different’, even if they treated that person with kindness and respect before.

To begin with, the reader is made aware that lycans are common knowledge. Everyone knows they exist, and in a Big Brother style move, the government decrees that they must all be listed on a register, for anyone to look up. Registered lycans must also undergo regular blood tests to make sure they are taking ‘Volpexx’, the drug that controls the change. So whilst at first it may seem that it’s not all that bad – many people are tolerant if not accepting – it soon becomes clear that lycans are second-rate citizens, not considered human despite the fact that they could be your friends, parents, siblings, grand-parents, anyone you know.

Only a few pages in, I had already come to the conclusion that I really loved Benjamin Percy’s writing style. It flows so smoothly and is wonderfully descriptive – but unfortunately, the story really slowed down about halfway through and almost seemed to drag in places. This is where the descriptive writing became more of a hindrance; I just wanted things to progress. However, in some places the slow pace worked really well where it was interspersed with sudden shocking moments and jumps, but I was never really scared. From a lot of the quotes on the inside cover, I expected the book to be pretty terrifying and was fully prepared to have to sleep with the lights on. However, but for a few eerie moments, it just didn’t do it for me in terms of a good scare.

There are three main characters within the story, although the book does skip around and follow a couple more, and I think it was the sudden changes as well as the fact that even the main characters didn’t feel massively fleshed out that meant I didn’t particularly care for them. Claire probably had the most interesting story, although I don’t think she developed much as a character.

Despite the fact that the conclusion was rather unsatisfying, I did enjoy this book – just not as much as I expected. Whilst it’s beautifully written and clever, it was just far too slow for my liking. And not at all scary – surprising, considering that Stephen King found it terrifying!

Review

Review: Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I recently re-read Jane Eyre for the first time since school, and it was like reading a completely new book. Without the need to analyse every scene, I was completely and utterly wrapped up in this world, following Jane’s story and heartbreak. I couldn’t get enough of it: I read the book in two days, I watched the Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fassbender film adaptation twice in those same two days, and listened to the soundtrack of said film on repeat endlessly. And that was when I remembered: I had this book on my Kindle, a paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre.

So it was with great excitement that I dove into Ironskin, hoping to rediscover some of those feelings and familiar moments. And whilst Ironskin is a retelling, it doesn’t stick quite so closely to original events as you’d think, and Tina Connolly plays really cleverly on Brontë’s work. In Jane Eliot’s world, fairies and other creatures such as dwarves are real – but fairies are most definitely not the cutesy little magical beings we know from fairytales. Five years previously, there was a Great War between the fairies and humans, and many people were killed or injured. Those injured by the fairies become cursed – Jane’s particular curse is rage – and she must wear a mask of iron to keep the rage in.

Whilst Jane is not a penniless orphan, as the original Jane is, she is an outcast in her own way. She is Ironskin, which immediately pushes her to the edge of society. She has a younger sister who is the total opposite – where Jane is plain, quiet, conservative but also strong-willed, Helen is outgoing, fun-loving and very much determined to integrate herself into high society. She is a representation of how important these people perceive appearance to be. There was definitely much more of a focus on Jane’s appearance in this book – in the original Jane Eyre she is occasionally referred to as being rather plain, but Brontë doesn’t dwell on it. However, in this one, Jane becomes a little fixated on her appearance and there were a couple of moments where it felt like she’d moved on from being this sharp, witty and fiercely independent character, to someone more like her sister.

Rochart was a lot less fickle and mysterious than Mr. Rochester. It was obvious that he had feelings for Jane, he wasn’t constantly pulling away which I felt left a lot to be desired with the romance. There just wasn’t very much chemistry between the two – why is Jane interested in him? Because he’s the only male she knows? I also didn’t understand how she was so surprised by his ‘big reveal’, when half the book had pretty much given it away. Hint: it’s not a mad wife in the attic. The ending also felt a bit… lacklustre. Although it was a big event with lots of action, there was just something missing.

However, I really did enjoy this book. It may follow the events of Jane Eyre and take plenty of inspiration from it, but it’s also very much its own story. I guess it’s a big task to try and live up to the original book, but Connolly gets close. There were plenty of little references in the story – like the room where Rochart and Jane meet is the ‘red room’, and when Jane has to go away for her sister’s wedding Rochart says he was expecting a ‘madeup story about a dying aunt’. My favourite thing however, was how in the original book, Mr. Rochester is constantly referring to Jane as an imp or a fairy, and when she meets him outside Thornfield he asks if she was ‘waiting for her people’. This took that idea and expanded on it hugely – to great success.

Review

Review: The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the pubisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Opening with one of the most horrific beginnings I can remember in Young Adult fiction, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown starts with a young girl named Tana waking up after a party. After extricating herself from the bathtub in which she slept, she emerges into the living room to find the usual remains of a alcohol-fueled house party – empty bottles, bowls of half-eaten nibbles, clothes strewn around the room – along with the corpses of her friends and classmates. The only other person left alive happens to be her ex-boyfriend Aidan, whom she finds tied to a bed, and in the company of a vampire.

I have read in a couple of reviews that some people were put off by Tana’s ‘party girl image’. I don’t really understand this criticism: if I stopped reading a book because a character had an interest or trait that was unfamiliar to me then I’d never finish a book. Needless to say, I wouldn’t get very far in fantasy or science fiction. However, I did not really like Tana very much – for one, she was incredibly fickle. I was mostly confused about what she actually wanted: she couldn’t seem to decide whether she wanted to remain human or become a vampire, at times she was both strongly against and for the idea. Her relationship with Aidan was also pretty twisted and she allowed herself to be used as well as using him, which was sad. She’s obviously quite a troubled soul. Unlike Midnight and Winter, who were pretty much the ultimate ‘typical’ angsty Goth teens, and who probably have a perfectly normal home life that they’re unhappy with for reasons unknown. They just annoyed me more than anything.

I can’t really explain why, but this book just did not live up to the hype for me. In a world that’s over-saturated with vampire books and films, this didn’t feel like anything particularly original. I did like the idea of Coldtowns and mixing the archaic view of vampires with the new by introducing a reality TV show, but it just wasn’t enough. I felt the book really dragging in some spots; I don’t know if it was because I had about a week where I didn’t have time to read so the story sort of got broken into two.

Overall, not particularly my cup of tea. A good read for paranormal and vampire fans, but there was nothing of note for me here.

Review

Review: Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris

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3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Previously on the blog, I’ve discussed Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novels quite a bit. I’ve recommended books for fans of the TV show adaptation, written a guide to the series for Horror October, discussed representations of vampires in media and chatted about my thoughts on the series. The series may have dragged a little towards the end in my opinion, but I carried on reading because I had to know what happened to Sookie and co – and overall it’s a series that I’ll always cherish, for its wonderfully dark sense of humour and great cast of characters. So imagine my delight when I discovered that Charlaine was working on another series – one that promises to bring together characters from ALL of her previous series! And thanks to both Netgalley and the publisher, Gollancz, I’ve had the chance to read the first book.

The first chapter is written in a rather unusual style, introducing the reader to the small town (or rather hamlet) of Midnight, Texas. Although it was quite a nice way to set up the tiny community and its residents, there was just too much information to take in at once and some of it felt totally unnecessary – for example, about the decoration in Fiji’s house and garden. However, what the first chapter did give me was a picture of a close-knit community, that is perhaps hiding something a lot bigger and rather out of the ordinary. The idea of a small country town with just a few inhabitants, but ALL of them with something mysterious or secrets they want to keep hidden is a pretty engrossing one!

Although the story is told from several third person POVs, I suppose Manfred would be considered the main character. Everything begins when he moves into town, and the reader often sees the world through his eyes: like Manfred, they are also new to Midnight. I didn’t much like Manfred. He is an internet and telephone psychic, and whilst he genuinely has some ability (apparently, not that he has really used it yet) he actually admits that a lot of what he does is fictitious and uses psychological manipulation. He just seemed completely fraudulent to me, and then the fact that he thinks he can go at scoff at Fiji for being a witch seemed rather… laughable. He also develops a bit of fixation on one of the young girls in the town by the name of Creek, which was just creepy. Although he is revealed to be only twenty-two to her eighteen/nineteen (I originally assumed he was early to mid thirties), the way he thinks about this girl he barely knows is, for want of a better word, quite frankly rather ‘stalkerish’.

My favourite characters were Fiji, a witch who runs a shop and various classes on magic from her home, and her cat, Mr. Snuggly. Mr. Snuggly was actually one of the most interesting characters, in my opinion… I’d like to learn more about the Reverend, who is DEFINITELY hiding something and I have a suspicion as to what it might be, but looks like I’ll have to keep reading the series to confirm my theory.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Midnight Crossroad is sort of an amalgamation of all of Charlaine Harris’ previous novels, including characters from previous books, implying that they are in fact all set in the same universe. Despite the presence of a vampire, and the reference to True Blood (as ‘that synthetic stuff’) and various other supernatural entities, it felt like a very different world. Not that it’s a bad thing. The vampire in the story, Lemuel, is more accepted by his fellow citizens than many of the vampires of Bon Temps and Shreveport – although Midnight has a much, much smaller and apparently less prejudiced community. No-one seems to bat an eyelid at a vampire in their midst, and even when some more surprises come later on, everyone takes them fairly calmly. Which just goes to show that life in Midnight is not exactly ‘normal’… I found myself waiting for familiar characters from the Sookie Stackhouse Novels, but unfortunately none have appeared so far!

Although I did enjoy the book, I had a couple of criticisms. For the first third of the story, until Midnight’s residents made a shocking discovery, and the surprising twist that comes with it, it felt a bit dry. It wasn’t until that moment that I felt the book really picked up. I also have to question the logic of the citizens of Midnight. One character’s girlfriend ups and leaves two months prior to the beginning of the story. Without a single possession. And he ASSUMES that she’s just left him because she doesn’t love him, has met someone else etc – why would she go without a single thing? Why would you not report her as missing sooner? If someone you love DISAPPEARS without taking a single thing with them, not their purse, phone, passport etc, why would you assume it’s because they don’t care? The other problem I had with the book was the conclusion: Midnight’s residents deal with their ‘villain’ in a very illogical and stupid way, pretty much putting themselves at risk.

In conclusion, whilst I enjoyed Midnight Crossroad it didn’t feel like anything special. The conclusion was shocking, but for everything supernatural about Midnight it just seemed so… normal. However, if you’re a fan of Charlaine’s previous work, I’d recommend giving it a try.

 

And thanks to Gollancz, I also have an exciting link to share with you all: a free sample of the first four chapters of Midnight Crossroad!

 

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #10: Supernatural

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the third of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Provenance’ (Season One, Episode Nineteen)?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

This episode is about a haunted painting that Sam and Dean have to somehow obtain from an auction house, and then dispose of. So what would be a better choice than The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? This infamous story follows the eponymous Dorian Gray, who sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and good looks. However, his recently commissioned portrait reflects the extent of his sins, whilst the real Dorian remains perfect – at least in appearance. It was a pretty scandalous book when it was released, and there’s also a fairly recent film adaptation starring Ben Barnes which only builds upon and adds to the scandalous moments. And then there’s The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1), the first in a brilliant new series by Jonathan Stroud, about young members of a ‘supernatural agency’. Like the Winchesters, Lockwood & Co have to deal with many haunted and possessed objects. I reviewed this book earlier in the year.

Enjoyed ‘Devil’s Trap’ (Season One, Episode Twenty-two)?

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates

After their father, John Winchester, is captured, Dean and Sam along with Bobby succeed in trapping the demon Meg, who reveals that their father is in Missouri. Unfortunately, he has been possessed by Azazel, the yellow-eyed demon that killed their mother. There are countless books on demons, demon possession and demon worship – and quite a few episodes to do with Ol’ Yellow Eyes throughout the show, so I’ll just recommend three books for now. Firstly, there’s the super obvious one – The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Do I really need to explain the plot?? A more recent release, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea tells the story of Violet, who lives in a sleepy little town where nothing much happens – until River makes an appearance. It’s a classic tale of that enticing new stranger being not quite what they seem… And finally, The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates describes how a whole town falls under the influence of a supernatural force. Although it’s part of the Gothic Saga, it can be read as a standalone as the series is more a collection of gothic novels by the same author, rather than novels containing the same characters and similar events.

Enjoyed ‘Everybody Loves A Clown’ (Season Two, Episode Two)?

It by Stephen King Joyland by Stephen King Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

The Winchesters investigate a series of murders at a travelling carnival, which turns out to be a Rakshasa (of Hindu mythology), transforming into a clown in order to trick children, before then murdering their parents. Of course, the first book that came to mind linked to this episode was It by Stephen King, which I won’t be reading any time soon thank you very much. Clowns are already creepy enough as it is. Another Stephen King novel with a carnival theme (maybe we should just avoid carnivals and funfairs??) is the more recently released Joyland – now this one I definitely want to read sometime. And now for a non-Stephen King book: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, in which a creepy carnival (*makes a mental note to avoid carnivals in the future*) comes to town, and two young boys have to save their home from its evil clutches.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Review

Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

If you are a fan of Supernatural or BBC’s Sherlock, then chances are you’ll love this.

It feels like a mix of the two shows, a sort of supernatural sleuth story, and perhaps if the characters of the shows were in their teens. It is set either in an alternate present, or not too far into our own future, where it has emerged that ghosts are in fact real – and some are pretty dangerous to human beings. Since a yet unknown and unexplained event in the past, ghosts have been visible and active around the country, and as a result ‘agencies’ have sprung up; agencies that are almost like supernatural police. Armed with various implements made of iron, silver and salt (Dean and Sam would be proud), the agencies take on cases to rid houses or areas of supernatural beings. Lockwood & Co is one of these agencies, albeit a small one, and made up of just three agents: (Anthony) Lockwood himself, Lucy and George.

The characterisation in the novel was fantastic. Lockwood is like a teenage Sherlock: inquisitive, extremely intelligent and passionate, whilst also being perhaps a little socially inept and reckless. He is quite a mysterious character, even Lucy doesn’t know all that much about his background. Both Lucy and George are the Watsons to Lockwood’s Sherlock. George is the researcher of the group, studying and writing, whereas Lucy is the down-to-earth one. She is also the narrator of the tale, and to me her voice even seemed reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle’s tone of writing.

As for the plot and events – some of the ghosts the trio encounter were incredibly creepy! It’s impressive that a book that had many humorous moments also managed to really freak me out at some points. And it wasn’t done through the sights, but Stroud’s descriptions of the feelings and sounds that come with a haunting, which really captured an ethereal feeling. The classification system of the ghosts was clever and meant the reader could instantly assess just how much danger the characters were in.

A brilliant take on the paranormal genre, with a pretty unique concept, especially for Young Adult fiction where the concentration seems to be on vampires and werewolves. I’ve always been aware of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, but never read it, and after reading this fantastic book I may now have to reconsider that decision.

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It has the Official Castiel Seal of Approval, so it’s got to be good, right?