The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud
Boiled down, this is basically what the column says: SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
If you’re a fan of swordplay, ghost stories and snark, go out RIGHT NOW and pick up the first book. I guarantee that by the time you hit the halfway mark, you’ll want to speed back to your local library to request the second one. For those of you who HAVE read The Screaming Staircase, know that you have all of these things to look forward to: a contest between rival agencies; scattered clues about a Far-Reaching Conspiracy**; the titular Whispering Skull; GHOST RATS; and a mirror that provides a view of the afterlife…but kills the viewer. I’m kicking myself for blowing through it so quickly, because now I have THAT MUCH LONGER to wait for the next book.
Previously: Jonathan Stroud's Seven Favourite Swordsmen.
Also at Kirkus: Murder Mystery! Ghost Story! Teen Entrepreneurs!