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The Screaming Staircase

Review

The Screaming Staircase

No one is sure how The Problem began. All everyone knows is that it’s never been the same since. Now all sorts of ghosts, spirits, poltergeists and any other haunt you can think of roam around London at night --- and most are extremely dangerous. For whatever reason, only young people have the psychic abilities to see or hear these spirits, and agencies devoted to protecting the citizens of London have been created to stop these treacherous ghosts from causing any more harm. 

"If there were one author who could combine terrifying ghosts with cheeky humor, than it surely would be Jonathan Stroud...THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE is an amazing debut to what promises to be a compelling and frightening new series."

Lockwood & Co. just happens to be one of these agencies, but it’s not what you would call a typical organization. For one, there are only three members: The fearless leader Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle who possesses the ability to hear spirits and their researcher friend George. Second, there’s not really any adult supervision of which to speak. For most 15 year-olds this would be a dream, but when you’re dealing with supernatural forces, the lack of adult guidance really only leads to one thing --- trouble. Lockwood, Lucy and George would say that they’ve gotten by just fine by themselves, thank you very much, but they wouldn’t necessarily argue that perhaps it’s been more dumb luck than skill. 

Such was the case with their last investigation when they were called to find and contain a spirit in someone’s upstairs bedroom. Long story short, they were able to find the source, stop it from doing any more harm, but not before Lucy unleashed some magnesium fire in desperation which subsequently burned the house down. Oops. Thankfully Lockwood and Lucy were able to escape with their lives, but the owners weren’t too happy and were demanding recompense for their loss. With no money in the bank and the bad press scaring off any customers, Lockwood & Co. wasn’t sure how they were going to continue. 

Fortunately and perhaps coincidentally, a very rich client calls upon Lockwood & Co. shortly thereafter to come and investigate the mystery of the Screaming Staircase and the Red Room. The client agrees to pay all of Lockwood & Co.’s debts if they can figure out the source of the haunting in his mansion and why screams resonate from the staircase every night. With little choice but to accept, Lockwood, Lucy and George agree to the deal, but nothing could have prepared them for what they would find!

If there were one author who could combine terrifying ghosts with cheeky humor, than it surely would be Jonathan Stroud. I’m a huge fan of his Bartimaeus books and this first entry in his new series doesn’t disappoint. On one page you’ll be laughing as Lockwood, Lucy, and George banter back and forth like normal 15 year-olds, and on the next page your eyes will widen in horror as they encounter some of the most treacherous supernatural creatures. Just remember to take time to breathe as you flip through the pages. THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE is an amazing debut to what promises to be a compelling and frightening new series. 

Reviewed by Benajmin Boche on August 21, 2013

The Screaming Staircase
by Jonathan Stroud