Review Blog

Sep 12 2013

The screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud

cover image

Doubleday, 2013. ISBN 9780857532022.
(Age: 11+) Highly recommended. Supernatural, Humour, Adventure. The first in a new series, Lockwood and Co., this is a world in the here and now where things have got out of hand and ghosts have appeared. Their arrival has meant wholesale changes to society; curfews, fear of the dark, and the rise of ghost hunters with their guidelines and marketing strategies. Into this mix comes a new firm of rather disorganised ghost hunters, Lockwood and Co., young and eager but spied on with suspicion by the older more well known firms, lest they fail and so undermine the other companies, or succeed and take their customers.
The company's newest member, Lucy, recently dismissed from her post as psychic investigator at another firm is keen to do well, partly so she can live but also to dispel the stories about her that threaten her livelihood. She joins Anthony Lockwood and his employee, George, who takes an instant dislike to Lucy, trying everything he can to undermine and humiliate her. So the stage is set for tension to rub between the three as they endeavour to solve people's ghostly problems. Their first big case however, results in the burning down of a house, and the subsequent suing for compensation sees them take on an investigation which could result in their deaths. With the creepiest house to stay in for the night, a ghastly employer and a plethora of horrors awaiting them, the trio sets in for the night which could see their fortunes made or their lives cut short.
An auspicious start to a hair-raising adventure into the supernatural world, this series will have a legion of avid followers. There are plenty of strings to follow: just who is Anthony and why does he have this enormous house to himself? where has George come from? and just what is behind Lucy's abilities?
Fran Knight

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