Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Lockwood and Co: The Creeping Shadow Audio

Lockwood and Co: The Creeping Shadow Audio

Jonathan Stroud
For ages 12 and up
Performed/read by: Emily Bevan
Listening Library, 2016 

Four months ago Lucy decided that she could no longer be an agent at Lockwood and Co. She became convinced that if she stayed in the agency her sometimes reckless strategies to deal with the Vistors would end up costing her fellow agents, Lockwood and George, their lives. Lockwood had already almost died several times due to Lucy’s actions.

Now Lucy is a freelancer and on the whole she likes it. She is not responsible for anyone and can take the jobs that suit her. The downside of being a freelancer is that when Lucy is hired by other agencies, which happens fairly often, she is required to work alongside their agents, not all of whom are particularly skilled when it comes to getting rid of ghosts. In addition, there are the adults to deal with. Every agency (except Lockwood and Co.) has adults who are in charge, which, in Lucy’s opinion is a mistake. Adults cannot see, hear, or sense the Visitors. They are “mortally afraid of going anywhere near an actual Visitor,” so they cannot offer any real assistance, and more often than not they shout out orders that are not worth listening to.

The day after Lucy finds the Source tied to a particularly dangerous Visitor, and takes said Source (a mummified skull) to be destroyed at the Fittes furnace, Lockwood turns up at her little apartment to ask her if she is willing to work with Lockwood and Co. on a case. The famous Penelope Fittes, the chairperson of one of the “oldest, largest, and most celebrated of all the psychic detection agencies,” has asked for Lockwood’s assistance. Apparently, this case needs a skilled Listener, which is where Lucy comes in. Lucy can both hear and talk to the dead, which is very unusual. The last person to have a Talent like hers was Penelope Fittes’ grandmother, Marissa Fittes.

When Lockwood, George, and Lucy meet with Penelope at her office, Lucy finds out that Penelope requested her, which Lockwood chose not to tell her. It would seem that the head of the Fittes agency has a great deal of respect for Lucy and her abilities.

The mission they are hired to take care of is the haunting of a house where a man called Solomon Guppy once lived. Thirty years ago Guppy invited a neighbor over for tea and then killed and ate him. Guppy was caught, executed, and his cremated remains where disposed of in a safe manner and that should have been the end of it. However, there have been reports of “disturbances” in the area, and the disturbances are in the form of sounds.

Lockwood, George, Lucy, Holly and their Fittes Agency minder arrive at Guppy’s house. It soon becomes clear that the cannibal’s restless spirit is indeed causing the problem, and Lucy and her colleagues get plenty of indications that he is around. They realize that the best way to bring Guppy out is to attack the thing he cares about the most: his house. Sure enough, when they start dismantling the kitchen, Guppy gets very upset. Thankfully the agents are able to find the Source and seal it before Guppy can harm them, though Lockwood takes a terrible risk bringing the case to a close. Lockwood has always been reckless but apparently he has been more so since Lucy left the agency.

The morning after Guppy’s spirit is dispatched, Lucy’s unpleasant but useful companion, the skull in the jar, is stolen. Lucy quickly figures out that the only person who could know about the skull, other than the Lockwood and Co. agents, is a young man who works at the Fittes furnace. He saw the jar when Lucy dropped off the mummified skull so that it could be burned.

Lucy confronts the young man, Harold, and finds out that he has been hired to sell Sources that he has been given to destroy in the furnace. There is a thriving black market for forbidden haunted relics and Harold has got himself tied up with some very dangerous people.

Lucy arranges to meet Harold in a park so that he can tell her where he is supposed to connect with his clients. Unfortunately Harold is murdered before Lucy can find out anything else, and his murderers are waiting for her. Lucy manages to get away from the relic hunters and takes refuge at the Lockwood and Co. headquarters. She is going to need help. Someone is buying relics that are tied to dangerous spirits, spirits like the one belonging to the mummified skull and Guppy the cannibal.

This thrilling, heart-stopping Lockwood and Co. title will delight listeners who have enjoyed listening to the previous adventures of Lucy and Lockwood. The characters continue to develop, and we come to appreciate that Lucy has a challenge ahead of her that could be quite complicated to unravel.