The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

the-screaming-staircase-lockwood
Rating: 4.5 Stars ★★★★☆

Of the first few hauntings I investigated with Lockwood & Co. I intend to say little, in part to protect the identity of the victims, in part because of the gruesome nature of the incidents, but mainly because, in a variety of ingenious ways, we succeeded in cocking them all up.



Plot

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.

Review

I loved this story. We get thrown directly into it: a Britain where the dead started walking again and it gets worse with every passing year. Children are used to hunt these ghosts down because they can actually see the ghosts.

And because extreme psychic sensitivity is almost exclusively found in the very young, this meant that whole generations of children like me found themselves becoming part of the front line.



So the set-up is already great as are the hauntings. There are a variety of different ghosts and it is a nice mixture of classic ghost stories with a new twist. They were creepy but at the same time very enjoyable.

Also, I really, really loved the characters. Our main character, Lucy, is awesome. She knows what she wants and is not afraid to call everyone out on their bullshit. At the same time, she also feels her age. As do the others. Anthony is charismatic, but also a rash idiot sometimes. George is the sensible one. Their talks, their relationship, it was just great.

On the one hand: Anthony Lockwood – vigorous and energetic, eager to throw himself into each new mystery; a boy who was clearly never happier than when walking into a haunted room, his hand resting lightly on his sword hilt. On the other: George Cubbins, handsome as a freshly opened tub of margarine, as charismatic as a wet tea towel lying scrumped on the floor.



The mystery is also well-written, though I guessed the twist pretty early. Still, it didn’t matter, it was so fun to read.



Conclusion

A great, funny urban fantasy novel full of loveable characters.

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