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Sonderbooks Book Review of

The Hollow Boy

Lockwood & Co., Book Three

by Jonathan Stroud


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Lockwood & Co, Book Three

The Hollow Boy

by Jonathan Stroud

Reviewed September 26, 2015.
Disney-Hyperion, Los Angeles, 2015. 385 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Children's Fiction

It’s here! Book Three of the Lockwood & Co. series! I only had to wait a week after finishing listening to the audiobooks of the first two books. (You can be sure I preordered my own copy. These are so good to reread, I’m not settling for a library copy any more.)

The good news: This is not a trilogy! (I was hoping not.) The bad news: Like the other two, the book ends with a fairly major plot point that will make everything change – and we have to wait to find out how that plays out. Aaugh!

Jonathan Stroud doesn’t write the same book over and over again. We’ve still got Lucy, Lockwood, and George battling ghosts with iron chains, magnesium flares, salt bombs, and silver-tipped rapiers. But now their agency, having met with success, is more popular than ever before. They’re having to split up to take on all the cases.

So Lockwood and George hire an assistant while Lucy is on vacation. A young female assistant named Holly Munro who is annoyingly perfect. She whips the agency into shape and manages their caseload, but Lucy isn’t entirely happy with the changes she brings.

Meanwhile, Lucy’s ability to listen to ghosts is growing. What if she attempts to hear what they have to say rather than immediately trying to destroy them? But that can have some dangerous results.

Meanwhile, there’s a huge outbreak happening in London with all the big agencies on the case. In the last book, I was a little annoyed by the childish rivalry between Lockwood & Co. and a certain team from the Fittes agency. (Even though they actually are children. Schoolyard bullying didn't seem appropriate.) But I liked very much that in this book, the two teams need to work together – and manage to do so. Interpersonal relationships got much more complex.

I shouldn’t say too much, because if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll be eager to read this one. And yes, yes, yes, it’s as good as the previous two. You will want to read this series in order. While I’m sure you could enjoy this book as a stand alone, it really is part of a continuing story. As a whole, it’s one of the best series for children out there. If you missed it before, you still have time to catch up before the next installment!

Here’s how the book begins:

I think it was only at the very end of the Lavender Lodge job, when we were fighting for our lives in that unholy guesthouse, that I glimpsed Lockwood & Co. working together perfectly for the first time. It was just the briefest flash, but every detail remains etched into my memory: those moments of sweet precision when we truly acted as a team.

Yes, every detail. Anthony Lockwood, coat aflame, arms flapping madly as he staggered backward toward the open window. George Cubbins, dangling from the ladder one-handed, like an oversized windblown pear. And me – Lucy Carlyle – bruised, bloody, and covered in cobwebs, sprinting, jumping, rolling desperately to avoid the ghostly coils . . .

Sure, I know none of that sounds so great. And to be fair, we could have done without George’s squeaking. But this was the thing about Lockwood & Co.: we made the most of unpromising situations and turned them to our advantage.

Want to know how? I’ll show you.