A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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)?
- Author: Jonathan Stroud
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: September 13, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.