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Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Screaming Staircase
Jonathan Stroud

Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Genre: Fantasy Crime
Hardback: 390 Pages
Publication: September 17, 2014
by Disney-Hyperion


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 number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.


After a disastrous accident, fifteen-year-old psychic investigator Lucy Carlyle leaves her small hometown and heads to the city of London to start her life over. However, without any references, no agencies are willing to hire her. Only the small outfit of Lockwood & Co., after seeing her unusually strong psychic abilities, offers Lucy a job, no questions asked.

Lucy works well as the main character. She’s talented, bright, and a little hot headed. Most importantly though, she isn’t shoehorned into some insipid, intrusive romantic subplot. Thus, the reader isn't lured into thinking of Lucy as “the girl” in the group. She’s a well-developed and interesting charcter that can stand on her own. With this new addition, the number of employees at Lockwood & Co. comes to a grand total of three. This includes the founder, Anthony Lockwood, a boy not too much older than Lucy and whose foolish swashbuckling demeanor disguises his great experience. The other member, George Cubbins, is a crabby character obviously intended to be a source of comic relief but one whose intelligence makes a great addition to the team. Combined, these three make a formidable team. Their personalities are well developed and work together to make their interactions interesting.

As the story follows the adventures of this ragtag group of ghost hunters, the reader slowly learns how the world has been affected by the sudden increase in paranormal activity. Staying out at night can be deadly, and profiteers have built massive corporate empires that supply the nervous masses with all of their ghost busting needs. Business slowly starts picking up as the employees of Lockwood & Co. begin to make names for themselves. As they start to take on higher profile cases, they begin to face more serious threats and uncover more dangerous information that may attract the wrong kind of attention. Just as I’ve come to expect of him, Johnathan Stroud does an excellent job giving every one of his characters their own unique personality and building a fantasy world perfect for them to inhabit. Fans of the Bartimaeus series will enjoy the way Stroud compliments the dark and dangerous settings Lockwood & Co. face with a bit of witty humor.

The Screaming Staircase is an enjoyable read full of mystery and suspense that constantly had me excitedly wondering which direction the story would take next. It hints at something big looming behind the scenes and ends with the promise of something interesting coming just around the corner. It’s clear that Stroud has something greater in store. Whatever that may be, you can be sure that I’ll be reading the sequel The Whispering Skull when it comes out this coming September.

Additional Information
  1. The Screaming Staircase
  2. The Whispering Skull
  • Ghosts
  • Minor violence

Guest reviewed by Kris's boyfriend,

1 comment on "Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud"
  1. This such a cute series and I like the paranormal investigation aspect, too.


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