Book Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)

13555073Title: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre:Paranormal Mystery, Young Adult, Ghosts, Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult and up
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

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.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . .

What else can be said about The Screaming Staircase besides that it’s one of the most impressive books I’ve read in my entire life? Jonathan Stroud gives us originality – a fresh concept, a dystopian world haunted by spirits, which can be best seen by children, and which are deadly when they touch you. With ghosts out in the open, Londoners stay inside their homes as soon as night falls, trying to escape the specters lurking down the streets. But even their homes often get plagued by ghosts. Murder victims stay behind to haunt the living. Suicides keep on committing the same act night after night.

Lucy Carlyle is a talented young agent who arrives in London hoping for a good career. But instead, she joins the smallest agency in the city, where there are no adults to supervise, and the charismatic Anthony Lockwood, owner of the agency, tends to do things his way. This could go great, or horribly wrong. And like you guessed, it goes horribly wrong.

After setting a house on fire during a job that should’ve been relatively easy, Lockwood & Co. is on the verge of bankruptcy. But when a wealthy man shows up on their door with a proposition, they can’t say no, even if that proposition sounds a little crazy.

I’ve seen this book qualified as middle grade; in my opinion, it’s definitely NOT middle grade. It’s suitable for a young adult audience and older. As an adult, I loved it, because it’s brilliant. It’s original, refreshing, the concept is great, the plot is surprising. A young adult would love it – and the main characters are young adults as well. But for middle graders? First of all, it’s a wopping 404 pages. Secondly, the subject matter is scary, complicated, and not at all suited for middle graders. Even the writing doesn’t find that target age group. So I’d firmly recommend this one to young adults and older audiences, but not to middle graders.

You know by now that I have trouble reviewing books I loved, and I absolutely loved The Screaming Staircase. I can’t stress that enough. Everything about this book was brilliant, from the writing which jumped from fun, light humor to dark, gritty atmospheric the next, to the characters, to the amazing plot.

If you buy one, and only one book, this year – then buy The Screaming Staircase.

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