The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Book of the Month
I hold The Bartimaeus Trilogy and stand-alone novel Heroes of the Valley to be amongst the finest fantasy books I have read. So when a new book from their author Jonathan Stroud arrives my expectations are very high. And I was not disappointed as Lockwood & Co - which is aimed at a slightly older audience than previous novels - proved to be another wonderfully entertaining read.
The titular Lockwood & Co. are a Psychic Investigations Agency. You see, for the past fifty years the dead have been coming back to haunt the living and when they do agencies like Lockwood & Co. are called in to destroy these dangerous apparitions. But it is only kids and teenagers that are able see and do battle with these ghosts so each agency is made up of a young workforce overseen by an adult. But there is no adult overseer to be found at the rather ramshackle agency run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood and when young Lucy Carlyle arrives in London hoping for a notable career she finds herself immediately embarking on her first case. But the case goes horribly wrong and the agency is left with one last chance to redeem itself. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive…
The most enjoyable fantasy books always supply the reader with a healthy dose of wish-fulfilment. I think this was key to the success of the Harry Potter books and the Narnia Chronicles before that and one the greatest strengths of Lockwood & Co. is that readers will wish they could live inside the book - after all, what teenager would not want to live in a massive old house, looking after themselves with no adults to order them around? And then at night they get to strap on a rapier and go out to battle the unsettled dead… Who wouldn't get a little bit excited about the prospect of being a full-time ghost-hunter? In Stroud's world it is the kids that hold the power, not the adults.
Another winning ingredient is the humour - not too much, not too little. This is where Stroud is at his very best, the humour in his books is always perfectly in balance with the storyline, never inappropriate and most impressively, consistently amusing, be it wry, cynical, silly or sarcastic. As this book is aimed at a slightly older audience than was the case for the Bartimaeus books it is much darker in theme and tone but the humour is still there, less frequent admittedly but no less funny.
The story is told through the first person narrative of Lucy Carlyle and through accounts of her adventures she manages to instil a continuous sense of tension that reminded me how I felt when I first read the excellent Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. In fact both books have much in common and any that have read and loved the Spooks books will be delighted with what they find here. This is only the first book in a series and I'm hoping that the interesting questions raised in it will be explored in the books to come: Why did these ghosts first appear 50 years ago? And why can only youngsters see them? I'm looking forward to seeing what will future will hold for our intrepid trio.
I recommended this book very highly - it is ideal for fans of Jonathan Stroud’s existing work and also those who have enjoyed Joseph Delaney’s Spooks series.
Release date: 29 Aug 2013
This The Screaming Staircase book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: Lockwood & Co
The Screaming Staircase
Lockwood & Co #1
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in... For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A nu...
The Whispering Skull
Lockwood & Co #2
Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is des...
The Hollow Boy
Lockwood & Co #3
Lockwood & Co. might be the smallest (some might say shambolic) Psychic Detection Agency in London. But its three agents - Lockwood, Lucy and George - are exceptional T...
The Creeping Shadow
Lockwood & Co #4
Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills. But now Loc...
Have you read The Screaming Staircase?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Screaming Staircase reader reviews
Mira from Canada
This book hooked me right away. Filled with stunning writing, wonderfully chilling case and lovable and intriguing character,I could not recommend it more. I like to put it as"even a scene as inocent as drinking tea in the library can give you the chills. The screaming staircase is a rousing tale with so much food for thought.
9.6/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend. There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary m...
The Discworld Series
On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious but inept wizard, ...
In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been ...
A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different. Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had on...
When young Jimbo Mambo books a room with Captain and Mrs Fanshaw in their Northernville lodging house, he is gradually introduced to their bizarre social circle. However, n...
May Contain Traces of Magic
There are all kinds of products. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that stay in the garage mouldering for years until your garden gnome makes a home out of them. Most a...
The third planet out from the star was blue, with green splodges. Dirt. Oh, the bomb thought. And then its courage, determination and nobility-of-spirit subroutines cut in,...
A Heist Too Far
Mallik, an assassin with a short temper and an assortment of sharp weapons, Dick Swede a.k.a The Black Moustache, an almost famous highwayman, and Jules Van Jives, a scruff...
If Pigs Could Fly
"West Kensington Paranormal Detective Agency. Doctor Ravinder Shah speaking. No case too weird, no problem too bizarre. Strangeness a specialty. How can I help you?&qu...
Far away in the realm of Mythos, an evil entity has broken free of its prison to darken the land. However, entrusted with her father’s magic scroll – the only h...
The Banned Underground: The Amulet of Kings
Will Macmillan Jones
What could be worse? Having to take a holiday with an aunt who turns people into frogs? Or battling the local dark lord? Or getting involved with a jazz-loving bog troll an...
To Say Nothing of the Dog
When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complex...
Bingo Sac Grabbins is asked by the coughing wizard Gandef and some (oddly Welsh) dwarves to help them relieve the great dragon Smug of his gold....
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...