Book Review | The Screaming Staircase

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

4.5/5 stars

Ok so … I LOVED it
Also, my inner child has a new book boyfriend

The Story

Perhaps better titled “The world”, because I am going to avoid telling you anything about the actual story. Some things are better left to your own discovery and I feel like this book is one of those instances.

Lucy can hear things … not the things you and I can hear (for we – at least most of us – are much too old). No. Lucy Carlyle can hear paranormal activity. Ghosts and apparitions and the things that go bump in the night.

It has been over 50 years since the beginning of “the problem”, that is, the arrival of a devastating ghost epidemic that is terrorizing the city of London. Dangerous things lurk in the night, and the ones who can stop these hauntings … the agents … or Psychic Investigation Agencies. Typically, such agencies are managed by adults (though adults lack the gifts needed to fight “the problem”) while the agents consist of talented children with certain abilities. However, Lockwood & Co. is different in every way. Lockwood & Co. is owned and operated solely by children and is the smallest – and perhaps not what one might call the most prestigious – agency in London … and the talented Lucy Carlyle is about to find herself a member of this crew of three.

What I liked

This book was so much fun! I haven’t really given middle grade books enough of a chance in my reading routine and this really needs to be remedied. To be honest, I have read way too many YA and even adult books that were not this well written or developed. There is a certain stigma to middle grade books, that somehow this book will not relate to me or be interesting to me because I am “past that point” in my life (which is a dumb way for me to think, considering that YA is my favorite genre and I am certainly beyond that point in my life as well). This book was not childish in any way. It was dark and twisted while also maintaining a lightness that was refreshing and had me laughing out loud. It also made me afraid of the dark (which let’s face it is not a difficult feat as I am pretty much terrified of anything relating to spiritual and ghost activity … yeah I’m a wuss). I guess what I’m getting at here is that, while this is middle grade, it is for an older middle grade audience and very easily appeals to an even wider audience still.

The writing of these books is fantastic. Again, as I stated above, I have read many many many YA and adult books that were not this well written and developed. The world is an easy to understand and unique world, the characters are complex and really well developed, the subject matter is appealing to a large audience, and basically I am well on my way to being Lockwood trash.

So let’s talk for a minute about the characters, because these kids are the best thing about this series (not to take away from the fact that everything about this series is also pretty awesome). Ok so, yes. My inner child is in love with Anthony Lockwood! I will shout it from the rooftops. He is a precious child and I love him dearly. Lockwood’s character, as you will see, is very secretive. It is obvious that he has many ghosts in his closet (no pun intended), but he is also very lighthearted. I do adore a broken character and I get the feeling that Lockwood is hiding some pain behind his bluster and snark. But oh the snark! I love it so so so much I can’t stand it! Lockwood’s sarcastic attitude is everything I need to give this book the lightness that it needs to counter balance the sometimes gruesome and heavy themes of the stories. Speaking of snark and lighthearted banter, I would be remiss not to mention the other shining star of this series! George Cubbins. Oh my sweet little nerdy naïve child! George is the researcher of the crew and is sometimes a bit too literal – which makes for some fun banter and funny moments. He is also pretty snarky which, have I mentioned I love snark? In some ways, I actually enjoyed his character more than Lockwood. George has a certain humor that is dry and witty and aloof that meshes perfectly with my own personal brand of funny. He is dedicated (overly so at times) to his research and experiments, again lending to some pretty funny moments. And basically the only time I liked our third and final main character (and narrator) Lucy, was during her interactions (aka arguments) with George. Which brings me, of course, to the tiny little blip of negatives I had with this book.

What I did not like

Unfortunately, I did find Lucy (our narrator) to be a little bit on the boring side. Her character is just as developed as the others, but she is simply a more reserved character overall. I would not call her weak or timid though. She has some interesting backstory in this book which I enjoyed, and as mentioned above, some really great banter with both Lockwood and George. But there was just something about her point of view that I found the slightest bit lacking at times (but only in small measure). Because of this, and because of the slowish pacing of certain parts of the story, this book took me a little bit to get into. But once I was in … I was all in!

In conclusion

I loved this book and these characters and this world and this idea and the mixing of light humor with dark subjects. This book is fantastic and I cannot wait to read more in the series! I’m going to say it now … I see the possibility for a full fledged obsession forming and I couldn’t be more happy about it!

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11 thoughts on “Book Review | The Screaming Staircase

  1. windowsillbooksblog says:

    I loved your review! I have been hearing so many great things about this series and have been wanting to read it myself, but I have been hesitant since its middle grade. I am not a big middle grade reader. But after your reading your review, I just might need to give it a try! Who knows, this book might be the start of my love for middle grade!

    Liked by 1 person

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