Literature: Lockwood & Co.
A fantasy series written by Jonathan Stroud
, following the adventures of a ghost detection agency of the same name.In an alternate London where the dead haunt the living, Lucy Carlyle, a talented ghost hunter recently employed at the eponymous agency, must save her new job, career and sanity with the help of her partners Anthony Lockwood and George Cubbins.
In the first book, The Screaming Staircase
, a mysterious locket and a botched investigation causes the employees of Lockwood & Co. to face the threat of home and joblessness. They become heavily involved in the investigation of a nefarious crime, and the haunting of an old mansion with a dark past. Lockwood & Co.:
- The Screaming Staircase (2013)
- The Whispering Skull (2014 - In progress)
Lockwood & Co. contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Lucy, as well as all the other female agents.
- Adults Are Useless: Only children and teenagers are able to see ghosts, so adults must rely on them and their senses in order to deal with hauntings.
- Alternate Universe: About 50 years prior to the start of the story, ghosts start popping up all over the world and attacking people, prompting the creation of agencies intended to fight them.
- Badass Longcoat: Lockwood tends to wear long coats, one of which you can see on the cover. Of course, Reality Ensues where his coat ends up getting caught in things.
- Before The Dark Times: Before the first emergence of The Problem, the world here was relatively normal and much like our own.
- Big Eater: George.
- Body Horror: The symptoms of someone who is touched by a ghost: their bodies swell and turn blue. They die very quickly if not given immediate medical attention, a fate that Lockwood avoided but Fairfax did not.
- Ghost In A Jar: The ghost-jar that George tinkers with. Unlike other contained Sources, the Source in the ghost-jar is active and likes to taunt and scare the people who look at it. At the end of the first book, a small leak on the ghost-jar allows it to be able to talk to Lucy.
- The Charmer: Lockwood, which is why George and Lucy somehow find themselves still sticking with him, even if they give their boss a lot of flak.
- Chekhov's Gun: The locket that Lockwood and Lucy find on a skeleton.
- Cobweb Jungle: Spiders are attracted to ghostly activity, so a good sign that there's a ghost around is lots and lots of cobwebs.
- Cold Iron: Iron is a common deterrent against ghosts, and is nearly ubiquitous in the world: from rapiers made from iron to charms to even mobiles for children.
- Crazy-Prepared: George keeps a complete set of ghost-hunting supplies in his bedroom.
- Crusty Caretaker: Bert Starkins, the caretaker of Combe Carey Hall.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Hinted with Lockwood.
- Deadpan Snarker: All of Lockwood & Co.
- Deer in the Headlights: The "ghost-lock" power some Type Two ghosts have invoke this; victims trapped in a ghost-lock are sapped of their willpower, feel an overwhelming sense of despair, and are unable to move even as the ghost approaches them. Luckily, it can be fought off.
- The Empath: Lucy has a variety of this which only applies to ghosts.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Cats avoid areas that ghosts are haunting.
- Fair Weather Mentor: Agent Jacobs, due in part to his own experience as a ghost hunter as a child. His negligence leads to all of Lucy's friends and fellow agents getting killed. In the trial against him he claimed not to be able to hear Lucy calling for help, or to hear any of the children screaming. Instead of returning to work with him, Lucy leaves and heads to London.
- Fat and Skinny: George and Lockwood. Lockwood is also tall, while George is a little shorter than Lucy.
- Fat Slob: Not as bad as some examples, but George tends to leave a mess wherever he goes; dirty dishes, dropped clothes, etc.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: One measure the British government instituted to protect their citizens, particularly in smaller towns; dusk is marked by a tolling of bells, and is a sign that people should be heading back to the safety of their homes.
- Free-Range Children: Invoked in the agency of Lockwood & Co., which is run by just the three kids without any adult supervision. However, they are licensed—at least Lockwood is, fully, and thus acts as de facto leader—and other agencies and their clients doubt their abilities and efficiency. They are also still required to take care of adult things, like fines for damages incurred on their jobs.
- Freudian Trio: Our heroes. Lucy is the Id, sensitive to the emotions of the undead, George is the Superego, insistent on research and preparation above Talent, and Lockwood is the Ego, balancing the two and making the decisions.
- Ghostly Chill: Naturally. A good sign of ghostly activity.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Near the end of The Screaming Staircase Fairfax wore a prototype which presumably let him see ghosts, but this isn't investigated yet by the main characters.
- Government Agency of Fiction: The DEPRAC (the Department of Psychical Research and Control) which was established in response to the Problem.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The ghost in the ghost-jar loves pulling this on people when they take a look at it.
- Haunted Castle: Combe Carey Hall, an old abbey that is one of the most haunted locations in England.
- Haunted Fetter: Called "Sources" here; finding and eliminating Sources—usually what's left of the ghost's body—is the main objective in an investigation.
- Haunted House: Basically every single house Lockwood & Co. investigates.
- Haunted House Historian: The caretaker of Combe Carey Hall, Bert Starkins, a particularly grumpy old man. Played for Laughs when he takes the trio on a tour of the property and it seems like every single feature of the place has some gruesome story.
- Hero Insurance: Averted. Lockwood & Co. faces massive fines and the threat of eviction after burning down a haunted house.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: Said nearly word for word by a ghost that Lucy and Lockwood encounter.
- Infant Immortality: Horribly averted. Only children and teenagers can see ghosts, and so they're sent ahead of their adult supervisors and into the most danger when investigating haunted areas.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George isn't nearly as charming as Lockwood, and he has his own set of bad habits, but he does care for both Lockwood and Lucy.
- Kill It with Fire: Fire is pretty good against ghosts, both in eliminating the actual ghost or the source, their body. A variety of white-phosphorus grenades are used quite commonly in paranormal agencies.
- Last Name Basis: Lockwood. The only person who does call him by his first name—as "Tony"—is Kipps.
- The Leader: Lockwood, of the charismatic variety.
- Lethally Stupid: Anthony Lockwood has shades of this. For example, when he was pushing his employees to explore the Hall with him.
- Mysterious Mist: A side-effect of a ghostly manifestation, described as being white-green in color.
- Obsessed with Food: George, which goes with being a Big Eater.
- Occult Detective: Whole agencies of them, of which Lockwood & Co. is one.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: They're often called "Visitors" here. Quite a lot of types are present or mentioned and they're categorized as:
- Type Ones are the usually harmless, if troublesome variety.
- Type Twos have a purpose of some kind, and can turn violent.
- Type Threes haven't been officially proven; they can supposedly be communicated with. The ghost in George's ghost jar turns out to be this in the end of the first book, when it tries to talk to Lucy.
- Paranormal Investigation: Massive industries are built around this, from the agencies doing the investigations to the companies providing them the tools to do the investigating.
- Parental Abandonment: Lucy's mother ships her off to train as a ghost inspector.
- Poltergeist: One of the Type Two ghosts mentioned in the glossary of the book.
- Psychic Children: Children and teenagers are the only ones who can clearly detect and deal with ghosts.
- Psychological Torment Zone: Haunted places; the effects range from a general sense of unease to Heroic BSOD-inducing terror.
- Power Trio: The three main characters.
- Rain of Blood: The manifestation of one particularly creepy Visitor in Combe Carey Hall. Also the reason why the Red Room is called that.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Inspector Barnes, while not very pleasant, is perfectly reasonable. He objects to Lockwood & Co. acting without an adult supervisor, and is definitely justified when they accidentally burn down half of a client's house.
- Refusal of the Call: When the ghost in George's ghost-jar starts talking to her, and mentions things like being The Only One for something, Lucy's reaction is to seal up the jar again.
- The Rival: Quill Kipps, who belongs to the Fittes agency. He knows both George and Lockwood and isn't on very good terms with both of them.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Ghosts can be trapped or preserved when their Sources are locked into silver-glass boxes.
- Shapeshifting: There is a powerful variety of Type Two ghosts capable of changing their form, and not necessarily into other humans.
- Silver Has Mystic Powers: Like the other series by the same author, The Bartimaeus Trilogy, silver is used in fighting off the supernatural.
- Skirt Over Leggings: Lucy's usual choice of wear.
- The Smart Guy: George, of near Insufferable Genius levels.
- Spot of Tea: Naturally, given the setting. Lockwood & Co. have tea before going on investigations.
- Tempting Fate: Lockwood has a habit of this. "It's Probably Nothing" and "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" are two examples of this.
- Treachery Coverup: Even after revealing that Fairfax was responsible for Annabel Ward's death, Lockwood & Co are kept from revealing it publicly.
- Urban Legends: Given the setting of the series, most urban legends are true. Part of the investigation process is is researching urban legends of possible hauntings. Combe Carey Hall has plenty of them.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Fairfax, the owner of Fairfax Iron, who, in his youth, killed Annabel Ward.
- Violence Detector: Lockwood and others who have his particular seeing Talent see sites of violence as places with particular bright spots of light, known as "death-glows".
- Whispering Ghosts: Another sign of ghostly activity, but only those with the particular listening Talent, like Lucy, can hear them.
- Who You Gonna Call?: Lockwood & Co. along with all the other ghosthunting agencies.