Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE HOLLOW BOY! I have a fantastic excerpt from the book to share with you - and don't forget to enter the giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, check out the schedule at the end of the post.
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: MG/YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.'s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?
Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.
Hold it. I suppose I should stop before things start getting messy, and tell you exactly who I am. My name is Lucy Carlyle. I make my living destroying the risen spirits of the restless dead. I can throw a salt-bomb fifty yards from a standing start, and hold off three Specters with a broken rapier (as I did one time in Berkeley Square). I’m good with crowbars, magnesium flares, and candles. I walk alone into haunted rooms. I see ghosts, when I choose to look for them, and hear their voices, too. I’m just under five feet six inches tall, have hair the color of a walnut coffin, and wear size seven ectoplasm-proof boots. There.
Now we’re properly introduced.
So I stood with Lockwood and George on the second-floor landing of the boardinghouse. All of a sudden it was very cold. All of a sudden I could hear things.
“Don’t suppose there’s any point trying to break down the door,” George said.
“No point at all. . . .” Lockwood’s voice had that far-off, absent quality it gets when he’s using his Sight. Sight, Listening, and Touch: they’re the main kinds of psychic Talent. Lockwood has the sharpest eyes of us, and I’m the best at Listening and Touch. George is an all-arounder. He’s mediocre at all three.
I had my finger on the light switch on the wall beside me, but I didn’t flick it on. Darkness stokes the psychic senses. Fear keeps your Talent keen.
We listened. We looked.
“I don’t see anything yet,” Lockwood said finally. “Lucy?”
“I’m getting voices. Whispered voices.” It sounded like a crowd of people, all speaking over one another with the utmost urgency, yet so faint it was impossible to understand a thing.
“What does your friend in the jar say?”
“It’s not my friend.” I prodded the backpack. “Skull?”
“There’s ghosts up here. Lots of them. So . . . now do you accept that you should’ve stabbed the old codger when you had the chance? If you’d listened to me, you wouldn’t be in this mess, would you?”
“We’re not in a mess!” I snapped. “And, by the way, we can’t just stab a suspect! I keep telling you this! We didn’t even know they were guilty then!”
Lockwood cleared his throat meaningfully. Sometimes I forget that the others can’t hear the ghost’s half of the conversation.
“Sorry,” I said. “He’s just being annoying, as usual. Says there’s lots of ghosts.”
The luminous display on George’s thermometer flashed briefly in the dark. “Temp update,” he said. “It’s dropped eight degrees since the foot of the stairs.”
“Yes. That fire door acts as a barrier.” The pencil beam of Lockwood’s flashlight speared downward and picked out the ridged gray surface of the door. “Look, it’s got iron bands on it. That keeps our nice little old couple safe in their living quarters on the ground floor. But anyone who rents a room up here falls victim to something lurking in the dark. . . .”
He turned the flashlight beam wide and circled it slowly around us. We were standing just below a shabby landing—neat enough, but cheaply furnished with purple curtains and an old cream carpet. Several numbered plywood doors gleamed dully in the shadows. A few dog-eared magazines lay in a pile on an ugly bureau, near where a further flight of stairs led to the top floor. It was supernaturally cold, and there was ghost-fog stirring. Faint wreaths of pale green mist were rising from the carpet and winding slowly around our ankles. The flashlight began to flicker, as if its (fresh) battery were failing and would soon wink out altogether. A feeling of unquantifiable dread deepened in us. I shivered. Something wicked was very close.
Lockwood adjusted his gloves. His face glowed in the flashlight beam, his dark eyes shone. As always, peril suited him. “All right,” he said softly. “Listen to me. We keep calm, we take care of whatever’s up here, then we find a way to tackle Evans. George, rig up an iron circle here. Lucy, see what else the skull has to say. I’ll check out the nearest room.”
With that he lifted his rapier, pushed open a door, and disappeared inside, long coat swirling behind him.
We got to work. George took out a lantern and set it on low; by its light, he busied himself with the iron chains, creating a decent circle in the center of the carpet. I opened my backpack and—with some difficulty—took out a large, faintly luminous glass jar. Its top was secured by a complex plastic seal and, inside it, floating in green liquid, was a leering face. And I don’t mean nicely leering. This was more the kind you get behind bars in a high-security prison. It was the face of a ghost—a Phantasm or Specter—tied to the skull that rested in the jar. It was godless and disreputable and had no known name.
I glared at it. “Are you going to be sensible now?”
The toothless lips grinned awfully. “I’m always sensible! What do you want to know?”
“What are we dealing with up here?”
“A cluster of spirits. They’re restless and unhappy and . . . Hold on, I’m getting something else—” The face contorted suddenly. “Ooh, that’s bad. That’s real bad. If I were you, Lucy, I’d find a window and jump out. So what if you break both legs in several places? It’s better than staying in here.”
“Why? What have you found?”
“Another entity. Can’t tell what it is yet. But it’s strong and hungry, and . . .” The bulging eyes looked sidelong at me. “No, sorry, there’s a limit to what I can sense, imprisoned in this cruel jar. Now, if you let me out, on the other hand . . .”
I snorted. “That’s not going to happen, as well you know.”
“But I’m an invaluable member of the team!”
“Says who? You spend most of the time cheering when we nearly die.”
The rubbery lips screwed tight in outrage. “I hardly ever do that now! Things have changed between us. You know that’s true!”
Well, it was sort of right. Things had changed between us and the skull. When it had first begun talking to me, some months before, we’d viewed it with suspicion, irritation, and distaste. However, as the weeks passed and we’d gotten to know it properly, we’d learned to really despise it, too.
George had long ago stolen the ghost-jar from a rival agency, but it was only when I’d accidentally twisted a lever in the lid that I realized that the spirit trapped there could actually speak to me. At first it was simply hostile; gradually, however, perhaps out of boredom or a desire for companionship, it had begun offering help in supernatural matters. Sometimes this was useful, but the ghost was untrustworthy. It had no morals worth speaking of, and more vices than you would think possible for a disembodied head floating in a jar. Its evil nature affected me more than the others, for I was the one who actually talked to it, who had to put up with the gleeful voice echoing in my mind.
I tapped the glass, making the face squint in surprise. “Concentrate on this powerful spirit. I want you to locate its Source—find where it’s hidden.” With that, I stood up. George had finished the circle around me. A moment later Lockwood emerged onto the landing and joined us both inside the chains.
He was as calm and composed as ever. “Well, that was horrible.”
Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.
Stroud grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.
In May 1999, Stroud published his first children's novel, Buried Fire, which was the first of a line of fantasy/mythology children's books.
Among his most prominent works are the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy. A special feature of these novels compared to others of their genre is that Stroud examines the stereotypes and ethics of the magician class and the enslaved demons. This is done by examining the perspective of the sarcastic and slightly egomaniacal djinni Bartimaeus. The books in this series are The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, and Ptolemy's Gate, his first books to be published in the United States.
Stroud lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire, with his two children, Isabelle and Arthur, and his wife Gina, an illustrator of children's books.
(3) winners will receive all (3) Lockwood & Co books in the series. The first (2) in paperback and The Hollow Boy in hardcover. US Only!
The Tour Schedule
Sept. 14th | Me, My Shelf and I - Excerpt
Sept. 15th | The Cover Contessa - Interview
Sept. 16th | YA Book Madness - Interview
Sept. 17th | A Dream Within A Dream - Excerpt
Sept. 18th | Curling Up With A Good Book - Guest Post