The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1)
August 29th 2013
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 . . .
The Screaming Staircase, first book in the Lockwood & Co series by the wonderful Jonathan Stroud, was the perfect Halloween read for me this year. I imagine it is also just as good at other times of year, but spooky middle grade series kind of encompass the spirit of Halloween for me. Spooky, but not too spooky, and so much fun. I really adored this book and it's one of the few cases where I read the second book straight away because I just wanted to spend more time in this world with these characters.
There are so many good things about The Screaming Staircase, but for me, I think my favourite part was the main trio. Lucy, the narrator, is so excellent. I love her. She's just on the right side of grumpy (not that there is a wrong side of grumpy. I love grumpy characters. I feel them in my soul.) and she's also kind of a badass and she's a lot of fun to read about. Though, and this is just a little side rant, what is with girls in spooky-ish middle grade series like this hating girls who like 'girly' things or who are blonde. I mean, seriously guys. Get a grip. There's literally a point in one the books where Lucy describes a girl as being 'blonde, thin and pouty' which was enough to make her not like her. Valkyrie in Skulduggery Pleasant was the same and they're both some of my favourite characters but THIS REALLY ANNOYS ME. I can't say that I haven't been a bit like that, though.
George and Lockwood are also completely adorable in very different ways. Lockwood is like a young Sherlock in that he has a fancy coat and wears too tight suits, but a lot more fun and sociable. He's the kind of person who you really want to be friends with and probably have a bit of a crush on (I'm pretty sure both Lucy and George have a bit of a crush on Lockwood. He is mega charismatic. I still can't believe my mum thought I'd fancy him, though. He's 14! I think. Or thereabouts.) And George is just hilarious. There is literally a point in which he takes a bath with a haunted skull in a jar. He's the research nerd of the group and he is not even remotely meant to be adorable as he's kind of disgusting and sloppy and mean, but I adore him.
I also really loved the world. It's basically the world as it is, but only 50 years The Problem started, so there are Visitors (ghosts) everywhere. However, it's only really children who have the psychic ability to see the Visitors, so the children get sent to fight the ghosts as part of psychical agencies. There's this really lovely old fashioned feel to it even though it is set nowadays, which just really suits the story. There also a darker side to the fact that it's just the children who get sent to do the most dangerous jobs, really, and it's that loads of kids die. It seems like kind people were nonchalant about children dying in this world, but I don't know if that was just me who noticed... Well I'm going to stop talking about that now because it seems like a bit of a touchy subject and I don't want to say anything stupid.
Anyway! There are so many wonderful things about Lockwood & Co. The characters are so fun, the tone is so lovely, there are genuinely quite creepy parts of the book and the world is so well built. It's just a great start to a really great series.