Friday, March 23, 2018

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) - Jonathan Stroud

Summary: A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: My husband has been bugging me about reading this book for months now. Months and months. It started out subtly—suggesting it, saying he liked it, etc., and then escalated to him buying it and putting it on my reading table (At the head of the line! He was cutting in line!). It’s not that I didn’t want to read it or was putting it off, but it obviously felt like that to him. Anyway, so I finally got to a place where I was ready for it. I have enjoyed lots of books that my husband has recommended, because although we don’t necessarily read the same kinds of books, there is some overlap, and when he recommends something to me, I’m always excited to discover something that possibly hadn’t been on my radar.

So. He has been telling me I would really like this book. And he was right! I did. I’ve come to like creepy things in my old age. I think it’s often tempting to overlook and dismiss YA Fic creepiness. I mean, its kid stuff, right? Not so. Many many books I have read that are creepy are YA Fic, and I really like it when it is. Being YA Fic I think they’re able to avoid some of what adult genre authors think they need in a scary book—gore, language, unnecessary violence. YA Fic, because of the nature of it, is able to breeze past this in a way that hints at it and certainly has some description, but is also able to leave just enough bite to it to give it some impact. YA Fic readers can handle quite a bit of scariness, and for me, it’s pretty much just the right amount. I felt like The Screaming Staircase was comfortably in this place—it had some really scary parts. They weren’t horrifying to the point of distasteful, but they were horrifying in a fun way. I liked the creepy vibe. Plus, I really think ghosts are fun. These ghosts were so well-thought out and the world building so good that it didn’t just feel like an alternate history, it felt like something that could have happened and possibly just been skipped over in the mainstream history books. You know paranormal fiction is good when the descriptions and world building are such that it feels authentic and as if it fits in smoothly to the already-existing environment.

I really liked the characters in this book. True to the case of many YA Fic books, they weren’t extremely detailed and layered, but there was enough there to produce some meaty content. It’s exciting that there are more books in this series because I think there will be lots of opportunities for getting to know these fun characters and seeing them interact with one another and with the ghosts. The ghosts were fun characters, too—just the right amount of humanness to be a little chilling. It’s a perfect rainy day or October read. Or, you know, a random Tuesday when it just seems right to have a little creepiness in your life.

This book is a few years old and therefore I feel like it has flown under the radar in some ways. It has some really good acclaim and Stroud is no novice author. Perhaps you’ve heard of it and I have just been living in oblivion. If you are into YA Fic, especially of the paranormal ilk (and ghosts are so fun and refreshing after the onslaught of vampires and other creatures like that) you should definitely check it out. It was definitely a fun, fast read, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the series. Which we own. Which my husband will probably start not-so-subtly moving to my nightstand. But I’ll be glad for the distraction!

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some ghost violence and descriptions of violence, but it is rather clean. There is also some mild language.

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