The Creeping Shadow: Lockwood & Co., Book 4

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Creeping Shadow: Lockwood & Co., Book 4 Book Poster Image
Consistently great ghost series keeps the scares coming.

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age 11+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some references to historical events, especially ninth-century history with Vikings battling the Saxons, plus some references to the plague epidemic and mentions of places around London, including Vauxhall Station and the adorably named Tooting in South London. Also, there's plenty of common and not-so-common ghost lore to compare with other books and movies about haunted places. The author includes a glossary of types of ghosts and tools of the ghost-catcher's trade.

Positive Messages

Bravery and not giving in to fear are essential for survival in the ghost-catching business. In this installment of the series, loyalty to friends and a rebellion against the more powerful, corrupt establishment also factor in.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucy Carlyle and Anthony Lockwood are brave characters who excel at their dangerous profession. Here Lucy, the narrator, notes that Lockwood has become too reckless and worries about him. He refuses to be cowed by the bigger adult-run agencies who try to tell him what to do. Lucy continues to develop her talents and weigh her desire for independence, thinking it will keep Lockwood safer, with her desire to be with friends who understand and appreciate her.


Action sequences wherein Lockwood & Co. face ghosts, aka visitors, in dark and frightening places include the fear of being "ghost-touched," which causes painful swelling, madness, and death if not treated right away. Scariest: eyeless ghost with bloody sockets; one ghost haunting where the man was a cannibal during his life and stashed the bones of a victim around his house; another ghost only visible in mirrors, making hunting for her much more dangerous. Fights among the living include a man dying from a broken neck, a man dying from getting pushed into a mass of ghosts, bullets flying with no casualties that way, magnesium flares exploding and causing burns, sparring with rapiers and fists, a flying knife injuring an arm. Talk of Lockwood's sister dying of ghost touch years before. Constant talk of how the ghosts the operatives find died -- a beggar boy was beaten and hidden under floorboards, a man hanged for his crimes, a Viking dead in battle.


One mention of Coke.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An old man in a bar drinks beer, a man has a cigarette in his hand, and the smell of a cigarette brand is a reoccurring clue in the story.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Creeping Shadow is the equally scary sequel to The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, and The Hollow Boy. The publishers recommend the whole series for middle-grade readers, but we still say the ghost-hunting series is a better fit for kids just getting into young adult literature, at age 11 and up. The book is over 400 pages, and the writing is more descriptive and dense than most middle-grade books. Plus, readers must like scary stuff: eyeless ghosts with bloody sockets, a cannibal ghost who hid the bones of his victim around his house, a ghost only visible in mirrors. All those who subdue ghosts for a living are kids or teens because they have "the sight." Lucy, the narrator, can even hear the ghosts talking to her. All the main characters are extremely brave and selfless, as well as reckless at times, and pride themselves on working together as a team. When they fight against bad guys in the land of the living, a teen boy dies from a snapped neck, a man is pushed into a mass of ghosts and dies, a girl gets an injury from a thrown knife, and many get burns from magnesium flares.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byMegan_Kipps December 10, 2016

What's the story?

In THE CREEPING SHADOW, after leaving Lockwood & Co., Lucy starts work as a freelance ghost-catcher. With her talent to actually hear the ghosts she captures getting stronger all the time, she's in high demand at all the other agencies -- in such high demand that Lockwood comes knocking on her door asking for help with a particularly malevolent ghost, a cannibal during his life. In fact, Penelope Fittes herself, from one of the top two agencies dealing with "The Problem," as they call it, asked for Lucy specifically. Lockwood and Ms. Fittes both try to convince Lucy, and she's torn. She gave up Lockwood & Co. because she saw a vision of Lockwood getting hurt because of her. In the end she decides that one freelance gig couldn't hurt. After the very dangerous job is done, Lucy is ready to get back to her independence. But that's not to be. She goes home to find her apartment ransacked and a valuable ghost jar gone -- it's a Type 3 spirit she can talk to that often helps her on cases. Her determination to track down the culprits puts her in serious danger, leaving her no choice but to seek help the one place she's trying to avoid: Lockwood & Co.

Is it any good?

If you love the other books in this deliciously creepy and slyly humorous series -- as any fan of ghost stories should -- you'll dig right into this fourth installment. The characters, especially Lucy and Lockwood, remain vibrant in The Creeping Shadow and continue to grow their ghost-catching talents. Lockwood is as cocksure as always and here reveals both more of a reckless side and a bigger soft spot for Lucy. In fact, the Lucy-Lockwood partnership has a real X-Files Mulder-Scully vibe to it. They're so obsessed with their work they'll never know they're perfect for each other.

Along the same X-Files lines, there's an undercurrent of conspiracy throughout. Where did "The Problem" come from? Did certain players in the ghost-catching business make it worse? What do they know? What are they hiding? It all adds an extra intriguing layer to all the excitement of chasing some truly frightening ghosts. The Creeping Shadow creeps one tiny step closer to figuring out the cause of all these hauntings -- but luckily not too close. Readers have more time and more volumes to enjoy in this consistently great series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the scary stuff in The Creeping Shadow. Was it ever too scary for you? What parts stuck with you? Do you think you'd like to work for Lockwood & Co.?

  • Lockwood & Co. keeps getting bigger. What do the new members add to the team? What does Lockwood & Co. offer that the adult-run agencies can't?

  • How does The Creeping Shadow compare with others in the series? Will you read the next book? Do you think they will get any closer to solving "The Problem" (how ghosts got to England to begin with)?

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For kids who love mysteries and ghost stories

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