By Jonathan Stroud
A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood and 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 and Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?
In a future time when the world shifts and everything changes, ghosts, ghouls, revnants, and foul creatures of death haunt (literally) everyone. It’s called ‘The Problem’ and nobody knows why it happened. All anybody has been able to discover is that only kids under the age of 18 have the psychic know-how to see and deal with these unwelcome visitors from beyond the grave. Lucy Carlyle is new to London, and finds a job with the only agency in town that is exclusively run by adolescents. Anthony Lockwood is the owner of Lockwood and Co, and as enigmatic as they come. Lucy is a talented psychic and Lockwood doesn’t ask too many questions. So now they are three. George is their researcher, Lockwood their point-man, and Lucy is the Listener and backup for Lockwood. When on what seems to be a routine assignment at a haunting, Lockwood and Co discover a sinister ghost with serious power, and a grisly secret. Barely surviving the encounter, the team is lead to the most haunted house in England, Combe Carey Hall, and the rumors of the Screaming Staircase.
I’m a huge fan of ghost stories. I don’t like horror in general, but I like a good spooky old-fashioned ghost story. This was perfect for me. It wasn’t nightmare-inducing but it was creepy in all the right kinds of ways. There was murder, ghosts, revenge, creepy whispers, lights, and sounds. It was a mystery and an adventure. I don’t much care for Lucy, but Lockwood is a strange kid that I’m dying to know what happened to him and his family. I can’t wait to uncover his story. The Screaming Staircase was a fun eerie read with a good humor and late-night story with a flashlight kind of tale.
I give it a 3.75 out of 5