Author : Jonathan Stroud
Genre : YA/Supernatural/Thriller
No. of Pages : 448
Publisher : Disney-Hyperion
My Rating : ★★★★★ out of 5
Any number of hyperboles I use to state how perfect the fifth and final installment of the Lockwood and Co series was, would be only an understatement; that’s how perfect I thought it was. For those unfamiliar with this series, Lockwood and co is set in a version of London, England plagued by ghosts and an unspecified time period (and I think that adds to the charm of it) This country-level haunting is called the Problem.
In this world, children with psychic abilities known as Talents are the only line of defense against the ghosts as they are the only ones that can see ghosts. Adults are pretty much useless and helpless. Kids with a strong psychic ability go on to become “Agents” and work for psychic investigation agencies run by adults. Anthony Lockwood, of course, does not trust the adults. At the age of 15, he starts his own psychic investigation agency which comprises of exactly 2 employees excluding himself. Lockwood is the charming, charismatic leader of the gang with enough recklessness to jump into dangerous situations with his coat flapping and the stylish rapier swinging by his side.
George Cubbins, the researcher – means he ploughs through the archives researching every single detail about the haunting before going on a case and helps keep the team alive during their ghost-hunts. He’s also obsessed with finding the root-cause of the Problem and possibly solve it. Which ensues a lot of crazy experiments.
Lucy Carlyle – a Talented agent with a rare psychic gift that lets her ‘connect’ with ghosts. This ability slowly grows and develops with age, so we actually get to see how she deals with it through the length of the series.
And of course, there’s the hero of the show – the snarky, sassy, evil spirit that is trapped in a jar, whom we endearingly call the Skull. The Skull is sort of Lucy’s personal confidant (shhh that’s how it is. don’t let her tell you otherwise) because she is the only one that can talk to/hear him. The whole series is narrated through Lucy’s perspective and she’s a textbook example of an unreliable narrator.
Since the Lockwood and Co is a psychic investigation agency, there’s a lot of fun Sherlock-style investigations, exciting chases, gruesome murders (now I got your attention, didn’t I? *wink) The world-building in this series is AMAZING; the types of ghosts, the abilities of the agents – their strengths, limitations these are explored extremely well. It’s got a ton of chillingly scary/creepy moments which made me wonder why these books are categorized under Middle grade and it’s perfectly balanced out by delightfully dry, british humour.
Book #4 The Creeping Shadow had ended with a heart-stopping cliffhanger which shook the entire foundation of what we were led to believe in the past books. So the expectations I had for the fifth book shot so high they may have escaped earth’s gravity and into the outer space….(Listen, I never claimed to be good at hyperboles)
I spent a whole year in the painful anticipation of character deaths and pain and more pain from the fifth book; but Mr.Stroud has managed to spring a whole lot of delightful surprises both character development wise (looking at you, Quill Kipps) and plot-wise and has given the ending we deserved. Basically, The Empty Grave was like getting a box of carefully picked out, personalised presents when you were expecting to be given the Pandora’s box. The only tears that were shed were that of happiness (which was the exact opposite of what happened with Ptolemy’s Gate, so one can hardly blame me for having such low expectations)
Most of the loose-ends were tied up perfectly in the book and some left deliciously dangling, open for interpretation. As much as I would love another Lockwood book, I think TEG was the perfect finale to end things for this particular story arc. But obviously, we need more short stories from this world. There’s a lot of case stories that are crying out to be told, like what exactly happened at Mrs.Barrett’s Tomb?? We need to know!!
Speaking of character development, can we talk about Lockwood? and how he ventured out of the shell he’d carefully constructed around his feelings and let out his emotions that were bottled up for YEARS? He still has some ways to go, but this was a good start.
Lockwood and Lucy’s relationship is so, so great because it’s the kind of stuff entirely built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and admiration (when you are ready to jump off buildings hand in hand, you know it can’t get better than that) it was about time Lockwood let Lucy in on a personal, emotional level too. I love it so much because their relationship works both in a romantic and a platonic way (which is may be why I wasn’t big on shipping them.) I absolutely loved how Mr.Stroud has treated their relationship;in a very subtle way but it speaks VOLUMES. There was ample material in this book for neutral, non-shippers like me to turn into Locklyle trash. That’s all I’ll say.
This is a bitter-sweet situation because I’m sad the four-year journey with this series has come to an end and I’m going to miss the agonising hiatuses, making up headcanons, staying up reading meta theories on tumblr and most of all, the wonderful kids of Lockwood and Co. But I’m also glad to have been a part of this journey right from the start.
It’s been over a month since I finished the book, I’m obviously still high on it. If I’d written this review as soon as I finished, it would have just been incoherent screaming in all uppercase letters about how much I loved everything. (
not that it’s much coherent now. I don’t want to give out any spoilers) Thank you, Jonathan Stroud for giving me one of my most favourite YA series of all time.
Recently Lockwood and Co has been optioned to be made into TV Series and I couldn’t be happier about it!! It warrants its own post with lots of gushing, may be I’ll make one once we get more info on this. For now, here’s the news article announcing the same.
If you are looking for a perfect Halloween read, Lockwood and co is THE series you should be picking up.