Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

One of my most anticipated books of the autumn publishing period, Lockwood & Co is a spooky ghost novel from the amazingly talented Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus Sequence. As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, I love a good Horror novel, so I’ve been really looking forward to it… And it did NOT disappoint!

The UK Hardback Jacket

The UK Hardback Jacket

Ever since The Problem came to England, Ghosts & Spirits have been preying on the population, terrifying & even killing with their chilling ghost touch. Whilst adults cannot see or hear most Visitors, Children are able to use their innate psychic gifts to track them, & soon companies are set up across the country, specialising in ridding haunted sites of their undead inhabitants. London based Lockwood & Co are an upstart agency ran by the brilliantly talented young Anthony Lockwood, with his assistants George Cubbins & Lucy Carlyle. Unlike most agencies, Lockwood & Co operate without specialist adults to guide them, & this difference allows them the flexibility they need to become the best Ghost Eradication Agency in the country. However, after a poorly researched expedition goes awry, the group end up burning down a client’s house & owing a substantial amount of money in repairs. When the incredibly wealthy Mr. Fairfax offers Lockwood & Co the chance to pay off their debts & more, investigating the most haunted house in England, Combe Carey Hall, the company jump at it. But can Lockwood & Co survive the night in a house that has claimed hundreds of lives, including other agents? Will they get to the bottom of the mystery of the Hall’s Red Room & Screaming Staircase? And why does it seem almost too good to be true that Mr. Fairfax is offering to help them just when they need it most?

The US Jacket for book 1

The US Jacket for book 1

Lockwood & Co is told from the perspective of Lockwood’s assistant, Lucy Carlyle, a tenacious & passionate young girl with an intense talent for hearing spirits, as well as sensing their history through touch. She’s a brilliant mix of level-headedness & emotional depth, providing great insight into the group’s investigations, as well as the sadness & despair of the Visitors that they encounter. Lucy is a really easy to relate with character, & her caring & strength of resolve make for a great narrator to keep the reader engaged with the fates of both the main characters, & the spirits they investigate. Lockwood is a charming leader with an easy, eclectic genius, conjuring images of Sherlock Holmes or The Doctor, tall & elegant. He’s often quiet, contemplative & thoughtful, but his sudden outbursts of excitable inspiration make him an endearing, but distracted character. He’s far from perfect, but his childlike exuberance makes up for his flaws. Finally, George is a bumbling, sarcastic addition to the team, with a razor sharp tongue & an amazing talent for sifting through research on haunted locations, death records & drudging up hidden secrets.

Jonathan Stroud is a brilliantly creative writer, & his descriptive passages are haunting. The way he unveils Visitors, in a slow, ponderous way creates a terrifyingly uneasy edge of expectation. Passages literally pour with the dread of some hideous spirit lurking just out of shot, & this adds to the general feel of the universe the book inhabits: One of tension, unease & constant paranoia. As well as his descriptive prowess though, Stroud creates a compelling cold-case murder mystery, interweaving plots from various cases, across a 50 year gap. He expertly drops hints & twists into the plot to keep the reader guessing until the very end, & the resolution ties all the threads neatly, whilst leaving enough to make the promise of a sequel very appealing. As well as drama, mystery & spine-chilling horror though, Lockwood & Co is also deeply fascinating, with staccato bursts of humour, as well as a complex history & universe to explore. All this, tied together with three interesting, notably different but equally engaging characters means The Screaming Staircase is bound to be a big hit, & Lockwood & Co is going to be a series to watch out for.

Book 2, The Whispering Skull, should be due out next year.

Thanks for reading!

D

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3 responses to “Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

  1. Pingback: My 10 Favourite 2013 Reads! | ShinraAlpha

  2. Pingback: YALC: Books, Authors, Warmth and Joy. – DAY 1 | ShinraAlpha

  3. Pingback: Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud | ShinraAlpha

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