My rating: 5 of 5 stars
We could probably get a lot more kids to read if all middle grade books were this exciting, spine-chilling, and intriguing! Lockwood & Co series proves that the Goosebumps books I read as a child were mild in comparison. I'm so glad that today's kids have this kind of amazing writing and story-telling to read instead of some cheesy Goosebumps books (that while fun lack the depth of story telling and characterization we get here).
New Girl = Jealousy
I really liked the girl/girl jealousy that immediately springs up between Lucy and (new girl) Holly. Jonathan Stroud really hit the nail on the head when he write the snippy, hurtful, sarcastic comments that these two girls throw at each other. I felt at times like I was re-living a few childhood moments between myself and other girls. Stroud makes it a clear point, by the end, that both girls are jealous of one another for no reason whatsoever. And why? Because us gals have been taught to be wary of other girls. We are supposed to 'win'; be is the boy, the race, or the popularity contest; and so we tend to be wary of new females in our comfort zones (even if it's undeserved or unfair).
There are a number of great models for friendship in The Hollow Boy. Stroud continues with our terrific trio of Lockwood, George, and Lucy of course. But he also brings back lesser loved Kipp and his team; plus new gal (mentioned above) Holly. The Kipp dynamic is a carry-over from the previous two books and I like how, in the end, both team of agents always ends up helping one another in some way, shape, or form. Our Lockwood-should-be-with-who dilemma continues; and of course he has swashbuckling moments where his hair is flowing perfectly as he jumps *eye roll*. I make fun but I know 11 year old me would have eaten it up like candy.
Plot & Ghosts
The story is really where Lockwood & Co books shine. While our characters are well done and interesting; it's all about the haunting problem in London. Without the ghosts we'd have nothing to be chilled by. We are introduced to more types of Type Two ghosts in The Hollow Boy, a couple super creepy presences (ick to all the spiders!), and in the end a hoard of... well I can't tell you! You'll have to read up to find out. But let's put it this way; there are more ghosts in this book than any of the previous two combined. Oh, and our skull buddy is back. He has to be one of my favourite 'people' (is he people?) in the series. Sarcastic, mean, and all around self-serving; the skull is a great reminder that people can be both good and bad at the exact same time.
My husband calls me a wuss when I read these books because I have been known to actually shiver from Stroud's incredible descriptions and atmospheric tension. The sense of disaster that lingers throughout The Hollow Boy (in a few different ways) keeps you on the edge of your seat. Each time I picked this book up I didn't want to put it down (resulting in two very late nights, lol). Stroud has taken the idea of child ghost hunters, which is already a bit disturbing, and elevated them to just the right level. He allow this series to remain middle grade (no gore) but still be creepy enough to make you think twice about turning the light off.
If you need to get a child who loves creepy things into reading; then I would highly recommend this series. If you're a teen or adult that wants something that is nice and easy to read, a bit scary, and has great writing then this series is for you.
Finally... that ending!! Oh that ending! I need to find out how quickly I can get book 4 delivered to my house (all our bookstores are closed at time of writing this due to COVID-19) because it's a 'necessity' for me to read it now! (lol) I'll leave you with one of Stroud's chapter ending sentences; that always pulls the reader onto the next page.
Follow me on Goodreads"Yes, all the living inhabitants of the store had left.
But that didn’t mean we were alone.
Of course not. After dark, we never are."