September 10, 2013

The Screaming Staircase - Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase - Jonathan Stroud
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Source/Format: BEA 2013 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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?(from Goodreads)


Remember this tweet? This is was what I was reading then. The voice of this book felt extremely British to me, so that's how I read it.

Oddities aside, having read a couple of Stroud's books prior to this one, I certainly had expectations. The Screaming Staircase met most of them. It's a solid series starter, complete with dry, sarcastic humor and a mystery that remained unsolvable until it was near the end.

The story revolves primarily around an agency made up of Lucy (the narrator), Lockwood and George, all of whom are young and good at what they do - which is basically banishing malevolent spiritual presences or figuring out why they were still around.

Lockwood is my favorite. He's an eccentric, but talented young man, and the main face of the agency. He balances a charming side and a frustrating one, pulling them out in equal turns. He wasn't easy to understand or figure out, and he became a fascinating part of the story.

George is the other male on their team, but he's more behind the scenes. He works hard on researching their cases, which is probably what I would do if I were in the book myself! His propensity for sweets, tea and adequate preparation was really what made him entirely relatable to me.

Lucy, on the other hand, is unremarkable, even though she narrates this story. She possessed quite the talent for "ghostbusting" (which is basically what this is), but other than that, she was no stand out. It would have benefited the book more if I'd been able to connect with her, or find her as interesting as Lockwood.

Humor is sprinkled all throughout, particularly laced with sarcasm. Stroud did a phenomenal job incorporating it into this novel, making me crack smiles constantly and laugh out loud as I read.

What really gives this book its strength is the story. Stroud lays out his world + the mysteries clearly for his readers. While it's a paranormal tale, and there are ghosts and spirits alike, each mystery is based in the history of a place or on a legend. I liked feeling like everything was based on fact, and easily explained.

He manages to bring out a creepy vibe, making me feel nervous. Still, I was morbidly fascinated with what was going on at the same time, which is no easy feat since I'm a scaredy cat. The fact that Stroud was able to pull me in so intensely was truly commendable!

The mystery was really good! I didn't figure out the twist until a crucial point in the book. It's always great when an author is able to surprise you with a twist, and that was the case here.

The Screaming Staircase is an intriguing start to Stroud's latest series, though it would work well as a stand-alone too. I'm definitely interested in learning more about Lockwood and the rest of the gang, as well as joining them for future cases.


  1. :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Alexa! It caught my eye a while back and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. I'm especially thrilled that the mystery is one that isn't blatantly obvious - it's been a while since I read a book that kept me guessing!


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