Title: The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. 4) by Jonathan Stroud
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Possible spoilers for earlier books in this series
After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .
‘We carry it around with us, the dark, and its influence stains us deep.’
If you know me even a little then you will know that Jonathan Stroud is an author that I have in high regards. I truly enjoy reading his books, but most of all I love the characters and worlds that he writes. And Lockwood & Co has been no different. We’ve already come to the fourth book in this series. But certainly not the last as the ending suggests. And I’m glad, because if it had been possible I would have devoured it in one sitting. As it was, I had to devour it in between feedings and baby cries which I managed quite admirably I’d say.
As this is a fourth book I won’t go too much into the plot. This plot further goes into what was already set up in the first three books. The discoveries made in each book come back into play in some sort of way here like the goggles. It deepens the plot and with the revelation made at the end (it can’t be in this series that Stroud doesn’t end the book with a cliffhanger type revelation) I honestly can’t wait to see what is really going on and how The (ghost) Problem was really created all those years ago. Also the other side element was interesting, and something I wasn’t expecting at all.
The first half is a bit slower than the second half. It also has a slightly different feel to it because Lucy isn’t with the others which changes the dynamics of the story. I had wondered how, after the ending of the The Hollow Boy, everyone would be joined up together again. It wasn’t very surprising element to the story but it was still heartwarming in that I wanted that talk to happen. I wanted things to be opened up. I wanted the gang back together.
‘Some people had a radio to listen to; me, I had a phantom in a jar.’
What I love the most about this book and this series is the whispering skull. He has so much sarcasm, and his injections into the story are always funny. But he isn’t just the comedic note. He also has insights into our characters and is a mystery in itself. We don’t even know his name. But each book we get a hint. My complaint with this is that the hints are so tiny. I had really wished we had gotten to know more about him in this book. Hopefully in the next one then.
‘It was hard to see, what with your immense display of raw skill blocking my view.’
The relationship developing between Lucy and the skull is great. She might deny all she wants but there is a connection between them. I’m secretly rooting for Skull & Co. Another connection that was deepened was of course between Lucy and Lockwood. Those two have had a pull towards each other from the start. And with the events at the ending of this book brings them closer. But spoiler, nothing happens in the romance department again. Surprising, right? This is Stroud we are talking about. Slow burner, people, if it even goes beyond hinting. I do wonder how the events will affect them from this point on.
One thing that annoyed me initially was how Lucy still thought of Holly so negatively. Holly really did nothing wrong, and after their little argument at the end of the last book I had hoped that Lucy would stop projecting her jealousy onto Holly. But the book started with that again. I was pleased to see that nearing the end of the book Lucy had embraced Holly a lot more. I was also glad to see that Holly was doing more than just playing housekeeping. She was out in the shine with Lockwood with cases in the newspaper, but she was also doing more field work. She felt more like she was a part of the team than she did in The Hollow boy.
Lastly I would like to honorable mention Kipps who went from a rather annoying against our main characters character in the first book to becoming a part of the team. Because clearly, Kipps is become our fifth member in this book. There is no denying that.
‘We shouldn’t fear uncovering things that are shrouded in darkness. We should shine light on them.’