Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co #1)

Publisher - Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date – August 29th 2013
Softcover – 440 pages
Genre – Young Adult; Paranormal
Source - Received from publisher for review
Rating - 4 out of 5: I really liked it
Reviewed by - Amy

Book Info
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

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.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts.

My Thoughts- I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the mystery and ‘The Problem’; despite such an unordinary story arch I felt it all linked well enough and frankly- many elements just seemed to click for me. I suppose I love quirks, in the main novel itself, the characters and the way in which it flowed! I couldn’t figure out whether the series is supposed to be futuristic (but not very far in the future) or an alternate universe but either way this is intriguing. The history behind the issue of ghosts is one that is hard to summarize; clues keep being given as we discover much about the ‘lay of the land’. The book’s a perfect mystery with action plentiful also.
Each of the characters in Lockwood & Co’s trio are epic- Lockwood, Lucy and George are such an entertaining bunch- and Lucy, protagonist of ‘The Screaming Staircase’ is a solid character, sophisticated beyond her years. The connection I had to her was sort of ruined by the fact that sometimes I had to hunt down definitions for more than the odd word frankly.
Lucy’s vocabulary- it’s extraordinary. She’s supposed to be my age, maybe even younger. Oh, and, at one point, she said she didn’t read a lot in the circumstances. As a child, she just didn’t so I wonder, where did she get these words from? I think she’d have mentioned finding a dictionary as a ghost’s source or something... Was the only way to eradicate a ghost, once, to skim the dictionary until you learnt dozens of new words? Even though, I think, the novel is written in hindsight it’s not exactly appropriate in my opinion.
Lucy’s charming, sure, and an interesting character but one thing I’d very much enjoy is to hear the sequel(s?) from other point of views as we don’t discover much about Lockwood, and even less about George as a result of Lucy’s narration. Basically, I get the impression her perception of the trio is jaded. The agency seemed so fresh from Lucy’s eyes yet she’s the newest recruit and I wonder how long it’s been around... You discover so much about her, her background and just HER that it’s peculiar- too jaded. How did Lockwood come to set it up, for instance? Talking about agency- it’s something the characters very much have. Their lives are very restless and they seem to have a lot of power for ‘children’ as it were.
My criticisms aside, I shall just sit and wait for the story to be continued in a novel which looks very promising now.

Summary- I enjoyed the way the Lockwood and Co. has such intricacies; it was a very surreal ride but who cares? I loved the imagination- everything just seemed more exciting and I was gobsmacked quite frequently. Event after event, I found myself falling deeper and deeper into a fantastically engaging adventure. I would recommend this but not for reluctant readers as such- if the size of the book hasn’t put a kid (teens included) off they’re probably good to go...


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