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"Step over here, and I'll show you exactly how feisty I am."
-- Lucy Carlyle to George Cubbins, The Screaming Staircase

Lucy Joan Carlyle is an agent with amazing Listening interconnected with Touch. She went to London in search of a notable career, instead she found herself joining the smallest agency in the city, Lockwood & Co..

Biography

Early life

Lucy Joan Carlyle was born during the fourth official decade of the Problem, in a rural north England town,[1] from the area of Cheviot Hills,[2] born into a family of nine: her mother, father, and seven daughters, including herself. Her father was a porter at the railway station in the town and an alcoholic, who died when Lucy was five years old, after an accident that caused him to fall under a train. Her mother is a launderer who washed laundry at the town's two small hotels, and a distant figure; what active maternal affection she possessed had largely been eroded by work and weariness, and she had little energy to spare for her brood of girls, of whom Lucy was the seventh and the last, so Lucy was left to her own devices and her sisters' care.[1]

Lucy knew from the start she had a Talent. Though Talent runs in her family's blood, none of the other family members were agency material. Lucy's mother could see ghosts in her youth, while two of her sisters worked in the night watch in the city of Newcastle. However, Lucy was noticeably special; with unusual sensitivity for matters relating to the Problem. The earliest incident known where Lucy used her talent is The Murton Colliery Horror, when she was five, in which she observed some of the Visitors passing by her house. Another incident happened a year later, when Lucy was about six. She was playing in the meadows with her sister, Mary, who is the closest in age. They were late going home and Lucy both saw and heard, vividly, a Visitor calling and coming toward them, a heartbroken women by the name of Penny Nolan who had killed herself some years back. When Lucy was eight, her mother promptly sent her off to Agent Jacobs, a former Fittes agent, and she was apprenticed. By the age of eleven, she had passed the Third Grade, and a few years later, at fourteen, she was involved in the Wythburn Mill Incident.[1]

Training with Jacobs

Lucy's employer was a tall, cadaverous gentleman who had run his local operation for more than twenty years. As dusk fell each evening, he led his five or six child operatives to patrol around the district. The youngest, like Lucy, carried only kitbags, but she still thought it was a fine thing to be a part of this select and important company.

Over the ensuing months Lucy learned how to mix salt and magnesium in correct proportions, and how to scatter iron according to the likely power of the ghost. She became adept at packing bags and checking torches, filling lamps and testing chains. Jacob soon discovered that while her Talent allowed her to see Visitors well enough, she heard them better than everyone. Before she was nine, she had traced the whispers at the Red Barn back to a broken post that marked an outlaw's grave.

In the vile incident at the Swan Hotel, Lucy had detected the soft, stealthy footsteps creeping up the passage behind her and her colleagues, and so saved them all from certain ghost-touch. The agent rewarded Lucy with swift advancement. She passed her First and Second Grades in double-quick time, and on her eleventh birthday gained her Third.

Wythburn Mill Incident

Some time before the series began, Lucy, along with several other agents, went to the Wythburn Mill. A local logging firm was interested in using it as a regional office, but wanted them to make it safe first. Lucy and her colleagues used their Talents and made their reports, though Lucy was the only one who got anything.

It was a long while before they caught sight of something; a little glowing shape crouching far off at the end of a passage that led deeper into the mill. The apparition turned out to be a Changer, a dangerous Type Two ghost strong enough to alter its appearance during a manifestation. Everyone, except Lucy and Agent Jacobs, was killed.

When Lucy gave evidence, she tried to describe the original unease she felt, but was forced to admit that she detected nothing concrete. Lucy waited three days to regain her strength. On the fourth morning while her mother and sister slept, she left the cottage without a backward glance; heading for London.

Lockwood & Co.

After being rejected by six agencies in seven days, Lucy applied for the position of Junior Field Operative for Lockwood & Co.; an independent agency run by Anthony Lockwood. Lucy passed all the tests in flying colors. On her first afternoon, Lockwood gave her a tour of 35 Portland Row, though he hadn't mentioned what was inside one of the doors.

George: "Can be a risky business being a Listener. There was that girl working for Epstein and Hawkes last year. Good ears, incredibly sensitive insight. But she got so freaked out by all the voices she heard, she ended up jumping in the Thames."
Lucy: "Marissa Fittes had my kind of Talent too. She didn't jump anywhere."
George Cubbins and Lucy Carlyle on being a Sensitive and Listener.[src]

On her first full day at Portland Row, a single new client came by appointment at 11 o' clock. The client had a problem with his garage. His granddaughter claimed she’d seen things and, against his better judgement, he came for a consultation. George theorized that the young man (the Visitor) was killed during an air raid during the war. Lucy, however, disagreed and said that the man died during a road accident; which turned up to be correct.

That night, Lucy talked to Lockwood and he revealed that he knew that Lucy had only finished Grades One to Three. Though he didn't seem angry, Lucy was embarrassed and tried to explain, though Lockwood dismissed her; saying that the past didn't matter. Lockwood then assured her that one day, Lockwood & Co. would be one of the three largest agencies in London.

62 Sheen Road

The book starts with Lucy and Anthony Lockwood in 62 Sheen Road, waiting for their client, Mrs. Hope, to arrive. Later, it turned out that the woman who finally greeted them was not Mrs. Hope, but her daughter, Suzie Martin. After talking for a while and expressing her surprise at the two's age, Martin handed the keys and left.

Inside, Lucy experienced an echo of Mr. Hope's death, which Lockwood briefly laughed at before apologizing. The two then found the kitchen for pre-case tea and biscuits, along with reading the notes from Mrs. Hope--which proved to be quite unhelpful.

Lucy and Lockwood toured the house, and Lucy went back to the kitchen to get more iron filings to make a circle in the study, where they believed the Source was located. On the way back, she encountered a ghost in the landing and was irritated at Lockwood for not responding sooner. She was also angered when the Visitor assaulted her, forcing her to drop her rapier and nearly knocking her down the staircase. Lockwood calmed her down, saying that an assault like that would surprise anyone.

We stood there, arms folded, glowering at each other across the darkened landing of a haunted house. Then, like the sun coming out, Lockwood’s glare softened to a grin.
‘So . . .’ he said. ‘How’s your anger management going, Luce?’
I snorted. ‘I admit I’m annoyed, but now I’m annoyed with you. That’s different.’
--Lucy and Lockwood bickering

Lucy and Lockwood continued in their search for the Source, which, they reckoned, was located in an old chimney breast that someone covered with plaster. While Lockwood made a hole towards the Source, Lucy watched out for him; using her Listening and realigning the iron filings, when the echo of Mr. Hope's death started again. Lockwood gave a final heave and the board gave way, losing his balance until Lucy managed to lunge across to steady him. The broken boards fell out of the way, revealing the ghost girl's skeleton and shocking the two of them to the point that they toppled over together; arms locked, legs tangled.

Without a thought, Lucy used a canister of magnesium flare in order to protect Lockwood from the Visitor, unintentionally setting the house on fire as well. While Lockwood drew the spirit away, Lucy set off to seal the chain. She hesitated before leaving, then grasped the golden chain hanging from the skeleton's neck.

Lucy and Lockwood then jumped out of the study, away from the fire.

Aftermath of the fire

After being interrogated, Lucy was brought to the hospital while Lockwood was taken by the police for extra questioning. After an argument with George, he showed her an old news article about a girl named Annabel Ward, who was the ghost they encountered previously.

Later, the trio was confronted by an irate Inspector Montegu Barnes, who criticized their lack of adult supervision and told them that Mrs. Hope and her daughter were demanding a compensation worth sixty thousand pounds, of which DEPRAC would not be helping them. Despite Lockwood's optimism, they lost one of their cases, which George did not tell him about.

That night, Lucy encountered Annabel Ward again, whose Source is apparently the necklace that Lucy grabbed from the skeleton. After being confronted by Lockwood and George about it the next day, Lucy noticed an inscription written in the pendant: Tormentum meum laetitia mea, which, as George found out later, roughly translated to "My torment, my bliss." Lucy also used her Touch to sense psychic residues from the necklace and it ended up so strongly that she felt all the girl's emotions all through the end.

Thinking that solving Ward's murder would give them the publicity they needed and help them raise money in order to save the agency, the trio eventually started researching about her; where they eventually found and suspected a man named Hugo Blake.

Lucy was then summoned to Scotland Yard to see Blake, and was terrified when, despite the one-way glass, he looked directly at her and smiled. After a brief argument with Lockwood, they discovered that someone was ransacking their place.

Characteristics

Personality

Lucy is brave and, at some times, reckless; doing things before thinking it through. She is stubborn and tends to be judgmental towards strangers; though her loyalty to her friends is unwavering. She tends to be cranky due to lack of sleep, and like George, she tends to be snappy when talking; which is the reason why they leave all the talking to Lockwood.

Though being an agent makes her feel more confident and dignified, she seems to have qualms about her physical appearance, and at times feels out of place compared to other females.

One of Lucy's most prominent traits, despite her slightly prejudiced nature, is her empathy; which is either an undertone of her personality or a drawback from her Talent. During the events of The Screaming Staircase, she formed an unusual connection with the ghost of Annabel Ward; feeling a rush of pity for her and insisting on giving her the justice she deserved.

While George tends to base his decisions on research and logic, Lucy follows her inner instincts, which are nearly always right. She is a good artist, often using drawing as a distraction. Lucy also tends to be easily flustered every time Lockwood compliments her, and is frustrated at her friend's secretive nature.

One of Lucy's most prominent trait is her stubbornness, which had led her to trouble several times. She tends to be judgmental to strangers, but her loyalty to her friends is unwavering. Lucy was the only survivor of the Wythburn Mill disaster (all her fellow agents died horribly at the hands of a powerful Type 2 - a Changer that deceived the agents by at first appearing to be a minor Type 1 apparition); this experience has hardened her to the rigours of ghost hunting, but sometimes makes her doubt herself.

Physical attributes

"You look terrific, Luce. You might have been born to this."
--Lockwood to Lucy in The Whispering Skull

Lucy mentioned that she was growing into a tall girl with strong features--thicker set than she liked.[3] She had large eyes, heavy eyebrows, an over-long nose and sulky lips. Her dark hair was cut into a muti purpose, ectoplasm avoiding bob. She believed herself to be not pretty though, like her mother said, prettiness wasn't her profession.

Lucy wore a dark blue, knee-length dress with a scooped neck to Penelope Fittes's party. She thought it made her arms look fat and her feet to big, and she wasn't convinced about the way it clung to her stomach, but other than that she thought it was perfect. Lockwood told her that she looked delightful.[4]

Abilities

Lucy has extremely powerful Hearing, which is often interconnected with her Touch. She has passable Sight, but Hearing and Touch are her strong side. Lucy is the only person aside from Marissa Fittes who has been able to fully converse with a Type Three. Not only that, Lucy is capable of communicating with all Types of Visitors, empathising with them and seeking to find their motivation to returning to this world. She has intense emotional connections with them, a connection ground-breaking but risky. Lucy's power is so great it attracts Visitors, and they focus their attention on her whenever encountering the agents. This is extremely dangerous, because Lucy is a highly emotional teen who often has bursts of anger, frustration or sadness, which makes the Visitor stronger.

Lucy's Talents her superb Listening and her lesser ability in Touch. Unusually, she also seems to be able to empathise with Visitors, and his often manifests itself as the ability to pick up emotional content with her Talents. In extreme cases, this has led to her forming a psychic link with particular ghosts. Such a link with the spirit of Annie Ward, lies at the heart of the story The Screaming Staircase. I'm going to term this "psychic hyper-sensitivity", although its not called anything like that in the books, which only mention that she is highly attuned.

Lucy is definitely special - she is the only person since Marissa Fiites herself, to converse with a Type Three Visitor.

Trivia

  • Lucy appears to have a short temper.
  • Lucy's last name, Carlyle, is often misspelled as 'Carlisle'

Behind the scenes

  • Lucy is the narrator of the series.
  • Lockwood and Lucy's ship name is "Lucewood" or "Locklyle".
  • Jonathan Stroud envisioned Lucy being 14 years old when she first ventured to London.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Screaming Staircase, II: Before, Ch. 5
  2. The Screaming Staircase, II: Before, Ch. 6
  3. The Screaming Staircase, chapter needed specified
  4. The Whispering Skull, chapter needed specified
  5. Q&A with Jonathan Stroud on Goodreads

Start a Discussion Discussions about Lucy Carlyle

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