The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) - review

The Screaming Staircase - Jonathan Stroud

I won this book in a goodreads first reads giveaway and I was just thrilled when it thumped through my letter box! A female narrator and protagonist, an independent ghost-hunting agency with a knack for breaking the rules - I was pretty excited to dive in to it with a cup of tea (complementary tea bag with the book, by the way) and a comfy spot.

I'm not always a sucker for ghost stories, or thrillers, but this one seemed nice. Lockwood & Co. is a small agency of 3 that you can't help but root for. It would seem the Problem (that is, all the ghosts popping up everywhere) is exclusive to the UK, and the book takes place largely in a London, England that's protected against ghosts with ghost lamps, rushing water, and lavender sprigs or silver jewelry on every citizen. Lockwood's house is a place you want to live, and this London is a curious place I'd love to have a wander round.

Our 3 main characters are Lucy Carlyle, 15 years old with an exceptional talent for Listening; Anthony Lockwood, the calm and charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co.; and George Cubbins, cynical, funny, and not at all a skinny guy. There is no romance in the book and the group dynamic is vibrant and amusing. The characters are well developed, flawed but likable, and I could relate at points to every one of them.

After a case gone wrong, Lockwood & Co. are facing financial difficulties. They have a large fee to pay, or else they'll get shut down. With a case behind them still playing on their minds, they get a generous offer they can't afford to refuse, but it's bigger than anything they've faced before. One of my favourite things about the book is Lucy's interaction with the ghosts. She sometimes feels their pain, anger, grief, even happiness, a lot stronger than the others. It can be a strength or a weakness for her.

I am eagerly awaiting the next part of the series now, it promises to be an exciting read. I hope, like this one, it's just the right balance of scary and fun. I'm looking forward to seeing Lucy's powers develop, to seeing how the group dynamics change. I look forward to more tea and biscuits in haunted house and more hilarious remarks in the face of great danger.

I really hope a film is made, because it has great potential, and I hope a fandom grows around my new friends at Lockwood & Co. so that I can look at fan art and read well-written fan fiction while passing the time until the next adventure, The Whispering Skull. I highly recommend this book.