The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Stroud
The Hollow Boy
Dysney Hyperion
299 pages
8.2 (Best New Book)

As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests against the psychic agencies throughout London, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness between the team now that Anthony has shared his childhood story, and Lucy is feeling more and more like her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.'s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes's and Rotwell's lives. Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure.

What the heck?

Stroud apparently is a sadistic writer. What you hate from the ending of Ptolemy's Gate from Bartimaeus Trilogy, well, he did it again. In a way.

But, Stroud knows the formula how to make a book not dull. Reading Lockwood & Co. is like watching a CBS-procedural police drama. It follows the same pattern, but it is engaging. Hollow Boy, just like The Whispering Skull, began when Lockwood and his friends were in an insignificant operation. As the book goes thicker, the operation feels more important until the climax, where the title of the book comes from. This injects the readers with some adrenaline as they start to open a book, and it will instantly hook them from the start, as usually the beginning of the book is where the struggle is real.

It doesn't pick up from the ending of The Whispering Skull, though. And I kinda forget that the ending of the book is like that. However, it's not making this series is a forgettable. Instead, Stroud's idea to write books about ghosts--something closer on our life, than werewolf and vampire, for example--isn't something phenomenal, but this is like a breath of fresh air in the storm of dystopian and paranormal-romance-fantasy (and books with multiple genres like that) books.

The Hollow Boy is probably the creepiest of three The Lockwood & Co that have been published. While I found its first two books toned down and not creepy at all, Stroud begins more explicit in describing ghosts in this book. The fast pace and the tense gives me chill, especially I can only read this on night after working. But, the plot in Hollow Boy is so compelling, and I can't stop to read it despite the horror.

And once again, Stroud unraveled some mysteries from previous book, but he added another mystery on the book, the real culprit. An amazing tactic to make readers keep buying it book, but I don' mind if Stroud still writes something good like this.

Still, Lucy is a funny narrator. And I really love her.

Hollow Boy is an intense penultimate book--if Stroud really plans to make tetra-logy for The Lockwood & Co. But, I guess not as this series is so well-received. So, see you on fifth book, I suppose?

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