Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Lockwood and Co: The Empty Grave

Lockwood and Co: The Empty Grave

Jonathan Stroud
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Hyperion, 2017   ISBN: 978-1484778722

At the end of their last big – and very dramatic – adventure, the skull in the jar that Lucy carries around, and that she communicates with, told her that Marissa Fites isn’t dead and that she is actually “alive and well and pretending to be her supposed granddaughter.” Not surprisingly, this revelation greatly surprises Lockwood and his associates. Marissa was given a very lavish public funeral, and she was buried in a silver-lined coffin in a crypt. Was that all a sham?

Naturally, Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly and Kipps then set out to find out if Marissa really is in her coffin, and they nearly die in the process. Thanks to a booby-trapped staircase and a very angry ghost, they barely get out alive, but their efforts are not in vain. It turns out that Marissa is not in her coffin at all. Something decidedly shady is going on, and the Lockwood team want to find out what that something is.

This mystery is not the only one that they have on their hands. During their last adventure, Lucy and Lockwood went to the land of the dead and they discovered that when living people visit that grey and terrifying place, the dead get rather annoyed. In fact, they will, if given the chance, cross over into the land of the living to express their displeasure at being disturbed. Lockwood, Lucy and their comrades are convinced that visits to the Other Side are what triggered the Problem in the first place. Someone went where they shouldn’t fifty odd years ago and ever since then Britain has experienced an infestation of ghosts.

They now had a clue to the Problem’s possible cause, but they have been told to keep their mouths shut about their discoveries. Penelope Fittes herself has made it clear that Lockwood and his friends must keep quiet or else. The whole business is very confusing. Why would the woman who is supposedly “at the heart of the fight against the Problem” be trying to prevent them from finding out what caused it?

Penelope Fitt’s stranglehold on the ghost hunting operatives in London tightens as the days go by. She controls not only three-quarters of the ghost hunting agency work in London, but she also has many of her people working in Scotland Yard. To all intents and purposes, DEPRAC (the Department of Psychical Research and Control) is her creature. DEPRAC is making it harder and harder for small agencies like Lockwood and Co. to stay in business, and the organization is closely monitoring what they are doing, especially Lockwood and Co.

What Penelope Fittes and her cronies do not properly appreciate is that the more they try to stop the Lockwood agents from looking for answers, the harder they search. George in particular will “not be denied,” and he continues researching, looking for the connection between the beginning of the Problem, Marissa Fittes, and visits to the Other Side.

In spite of DEPRAC and the Fittes Agency spies, the agents of Lockwood and Co. keep working, getting rid of dangerous Visitors with skill, and without too much damage to property. At the same time they keep searching for answers, even when they are threatened, and even when they are attacked. Surely all this interest in them indicates that they are getting close to the truth.

In this final gripping and thrilling Lockwood and Co. novel, the team faces an enemy that is more dangerous than any that they have faced thus far. Many of the clues that we encountered in the earlier books come together as Lockwood, Lucy, and George search for answers and risk everything to find out the truth.