The Whispering Skull: Lockwood & Co., Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Whispering Skull: Lockwood & Co., Book 2 Book Poster Image
Excellent ghost-hunting series stays super scary.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some references to places in London, especially cemeteries and along the Thames. Readers will learn what a "catafalque" is and a bit about catacombs. 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. Competitiveness sometimes gets in the way of safety and reason, putting people at risk; lessons are learned on this score.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucy, Anthony Lockwood, and George are clearly very brave and resourceful to survive their dangerous profession. They're a good team but also competitive and take too many risks trying to win a bet. Lucy's the most talented ghost catcher and feels more confident in her abilities; she's hot-headed at times but the most level-headed when situations get tense and frightening. Anthony continues to be somewhat overconfident and is the biggest risk-taker.  

Violence

Action sequences wherein Lockwood & Co. face ghosts in dark and frightening places include the fear of being "ghost-touched," which causes painful swelling and then death if not treated right away. A powerful relic also can cause instant death when looked at; this is how a few minor characters die. Some explosions, fistfights, and rapier fights among the living cause injuries; a man is stabbed in the back with a knife and dies. The slicing up of one "Visitor," or ghost, is gory enough that narrator Lucy warns readers to skip ahead if they're squeamish. A description of a dug-up corpse also is pretty vivid. Plenty of talk of the way Visitors died, and repeated mentions of a man who was eaten by rats. Mentions of a mass death in a cult, experiments performed on cadavers, a woman strangled by a ghost, and a man beating another to death.

Sex
Language

"Damn," "bloody," "hell," and a few variations.

Consumerism

One mention of Coke.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink champagne at a party while teen Lucy drinks orange juice. Mentions of the smell of tobacco smoke.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Whispering Skull is the equally scary sequel to The Screaming Staircase. The publishers recommend the whole series for age 8 to 12, but we still say the ghost-hunting series is a better fit for kids just getting into young adult literature: 11 and up. The book is just shy of 450 pages, and the writing is more descriptive and dense than most middle grade books. Plus, readers must like scary stuff: coffins, descriptions of decaying bodies and deadly curses that kill a few minor characters, serious hauntings wherein ghosts can kill you by touching you, talk of rats eating people alive, and experiments on the dead. A couple of descriptions are gory; Lucy, the narrator gives readers a warning to skip ahead if they don't want to read it. Lucy, Lockwood, and George all are brave and talented ghost hunters. Sometimes their competitive natures trump safety, but they learn their lesson in time.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 11 year old Written byAislinn April 7, 2016

Spooky Fun

Yes it is spooky but it is geared for the 10+ group. I agree the writing is a bit more challenging than other books at this age level but it isn't a diffi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycolor.me.cool October 19, 2016

BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!

I think this book was amazing and I will stay loyal to the series till the end.

What's the story?

Called into a cemetery one night to help with the removal of a particularly mysterious coffin and its malevolent spirit, the talented ghost catchers of Lockwood & Co. -- Lucy, Anthony Lockwood, and George -- realize too late that they're in over their heads. The coffin made of iron holds a mummy-like corpse and a mirror causing some serious psychic disturbances. Lucy hears a constant buzzing when she gets near it, and, after a quick accidental peek, George can't stop thinking about it and is desperate to study it further. Luckily, he doesn't get the chance. Two relicmen run off with the mirror in the night, and one dies before he even makes it out of the graveyard. Hearing of the incident, DEPRAC (the Department of Psychic Research and Control) sends Lockwood & Co. and a rival group from the Fittes Agency after the mirror before there are more casualties. Lockwood is determined to beat the Fittes team to the mirror, but easier said than done. Researching its power leads them to murderous relic dealers, one very haunted house, and the awful secrets it holds -- secrets one glowing-skull ghost is more than happy to whisper in Lucy's ear.

Is it any good?

Lockwood & Co. is the perfect series for kids who live for the scary stuff and for parents who worry that R. L. Stine is going to rot their little zombie-lovers' brains. The writing is fantastic and even builds vocabulary -- and not only by adding creepy words such as "catafalque." There's a great mix of scares, deadpan humor, and fast-paced adventure once the long and many-layered climax gets rolling. 

It's the characters who get even the most skittish readers in the haunted house. We know Lucy can hold her own, especially in THE WHISPERING SKULL, where she's more confident about her gifts. And we know that overly optimistic Lockwood will always make the right flashy quip to break the tension before he wields his rapier with ease. After a lot of nail-biting mixed with laughter and a shocking reveal at the end, kids will be lining up to join Lockwood & Co. on their next adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whispering skulls, haunted houses, cursed artifacts, and other scary stuff in this book. What frightened you the most? What do you do when you think something is too scary for you? How does Lucy calm herself when she gets too scared?

  • Lucy is the narrator of the story. How do you think the story would be different if it were told from Lockwood's perspective? How about George's?

  • What do you think of the series so far? Will you keep reading it? 

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