With Halloween coming up at the end of the month, it only feels appropriate to review a scary book – a ghost story. The Screaming Staircase is aimed at children from ages 8 and up however, the kid in all of us should enjoy the book.
The Screaming Staircase is the first book in Jonathan Stroud’s new series Lockwood & Co. I discovered this author a year ago while on a family road trip when we listened to The Amulet of Samarkand. The kids stopped arguing over silly things and we were all captivated by Mr. Stroud’s excellent storytelling skills. So when I saw that a new series was available for review, I jumped at the chance.
The Screaming Staircase was a lot of fun to read. Imagine Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo with a touch of Harry Potter thrown in (for the kids and English accents). The story is set in London during a great plague of ghosts or “Visitors.” These “Visitors” are extremely dangerous, causing death if they manage to touch the living. They must be eradicated by teams of Psychic Detection Agencies. Ideally, the source of the haunting must also be removed. Unfortunately, only children are able to see the ghosts, so we have some pint-sized and teenaged ghost hunters. Lockwood & Co. is one of those agencies run by Anthony Lockwood.
Anthony hires Lucy Carlyle to work for his agency. They, along with Lockwood’s other associate George fight ghosts using plenty of iron, salt, silver, and their rapier swords. There is a lot of ghost swash-buckling as well as plenty of the requisite tea breaks. After one of their ghostly escapades causes their client’s house to burn down, they are fined an exorbitant amount. They accept an assignment at the very spooky Combe Carey estate, the home of The Screaming Staircase.
This book was scary good. It was full of action, hairy moments, really scary spooky ghosts, and some really funny moments. I love the author’s writing style and wit. He has a way of making a scary scene less scary by inserting some humor into the moment. The interaction between the characters was well done. I loved the banter between Lucy and George – it was almost adversarial at times as if Lucy was a threat to Anthony and George’s relationship. Anthony was an intriguing character. There seems to be a lot more to him than was revealed. I liked that he had an air of mystery about him. Lucy was very brave and resourceful.
This was a fast paced book and it would make an awesome movie. My only criticism is that it took nearly two thirds of the book to finally get to The Screaming Staircase and that is a very small niggling point because the book was awesome and the journey to that part was definitely worth it.
I’d recommend The Screaming Staircase to anyone who loves ghost stories. While the book is being marketed to middle school aged children, don’t let that put you off. This book should appeal to middle school, young adults, and even their parents, making this the perfect book to read with your kids.
Series Reading Order:
Thank you to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for a review copy of this book.
Review posted on Badass Book Reviews: http://badassbookreviews.com/new-release-review-the-screaming-staircase-by-jonathan-stroud/