Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Suitcase (#1) by Jonathan Stroud (5 out of 5)
The above image is the paperback cover. I didn’t discover Lockwood & Co until I found the paperback straightening the kids’ section in the store last week. The paperback cover, for the record, is far cooler than the hardcover. Just my unbiased opinion. I really enjoyed this book a lot. I didn’t expect to dive into another “Year 8” (work terminology for that age group) so soon, but there it was! Where have you heard Jonathan Stroud’s name before? He wrote the New York Times bestselling Bartimaeus trilogy (for those who care, that trilogy is far better than that overhyped Paolini series. Again, my opinion). I hadn’t thought of Stroud in years until I saw this one. I’m so happy that I picked it up. It’s for age group 8-12, grade level 3rd-7th. I would call it on the latter end of that, around 4th or 5th grade reading level. Your 3rd and 4th graders who may not be hopping into the higher end of the reading rainbow, may find this a bit beyond their comprehension. There isn’t a single thing I disliked about this book, except that it had to end. However, I knew there was another coming (thanks for the info, Holly), so that helped ease the pain. I would have picked this up anyway, because it’s got a touch of the ghostly realm, and I love anything in that genre!
Lockwood & Co (in this case, Anthony Lockwood, Lucy, and George) is a teenage ghost-hunting agency. Their current problem is that all manners of ghosts are appearing all over London, and they aren’t your Casper variety (friendly). Young people, for some inexplicable reason, can see and eradicate the forces of evil. Lockwood & Co have an assignment that does not go well, nor end well, and leads the three amigos to a dangerous investigation at spooky Combe Carey Hall, perhaps the most haunted house in the entirety of England. The Screaming Suitcase is one of the many “highlights” (major air quotes there, readers) they encounter in the house. Can they defeat the Screaming Suitcase? Will they survive the Red Room? Will they make it out okay? Will they get another case? Will they stay in business, with all of the competition suddenly popping up over London, in face of “The Problem” (that’s what the ghost infestation is called). Will London recover from the nasty ghosts? I could easily see this being made into a movie. I would actually welcome that. If your kids like fun and slightly unique paranormal tales, this one is for you. Or rather, for them. As usual, Stroud doesn’t disappoint. The younger crowd will dig this, as the older crowd dug Bartimaeus.