Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud Review
Summary: The Screaming Staircase
Lucy Carlyle is an agent from Lockwood and Co., an agency created for finding and eradicating spirits, commonly known as Visitors. Lockwood and Co. does not have the best reputation, however, and an incident with a case gone wrong drags her, her young boss Lockwood and their meticulous colleague George into a perilous investigation at the most haunted house in England--Combe Carey Hall.
Bartimaeus & Lockwood
Many fans of the best-selling Bartimaeus trilogy greatly anticipated the Lockwood & Co. first novel, expecting another great series from a promising author. While they may have enjoyed it, there were several differences between the two series that might put off fans of Bartimaeus.
While both series are considered young adult, the voice of The Screaming Staircase is, from the beginning, considerably younger. This is done purposefully as the protagonist of this series is a young girl instead of an ancient, snide djinn, but nonetheless, if fans were expecting the same mature atmosphere as the Bartimaeus trilogy, they will certainly be taken by surprise.
Other than the voice, of which is purposefully and refreshingly different, Stroud is consistent with his in-depth descriptions and mix of dry-and-slapstick-comedy. Even though the vibe of the book is much more lighthearted than the Bartimaeus trilogy, fans should still enjoy this book as it keeps with Stroud's personal and hilarious flare.
The protagonist is a young teenage girl named Lucy Carlyle and is well written considering most people become concerned when authors write books in views of characters of the opposite gender.
Stroud had experience writing from the young female perspective of course and did very well with Kitty from the Bartimaeus trilogy, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to readers that the tone and inner voice of Lucy Carlyle was both believable and relatable.
The character had many layers and never sank into any certain category as a lot of authors tend to do with their female characters, which is either make them unbelievably stupid or unbearably stubborn--or both. Carlyle is a complicated girl with both heart and independence. She's an automatically lovable character, even--or especially--counting her several faults, which includes being easily influenced by her feelings in cases where cold calculation is necessary.
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Visitors Around the World
One thing Stroud is great in, as most of his readers will note, is world-building. Small facts strewn throughout the story about the world's history and the history of the Problem--the phenomena where Visitors have been popping up all over England for about 50 years-- at first might be overlooked but actually deepen the story-line by emerging the reader fully into the world that Stroud creates.
The simple change of the words "ghosts" or "specters" to Visitors serves in adding to the book's uniqueness from other thrillers concerning the same type of creatures.
A fantastic mix of suspense/thriller and paranormal YA, this book is great at unsettling your stomach and making the reader feel as if the shadows by the bathroom door may perhaps be a vengeful toilet ghost.
The imagery and carefully hidden secrets throughout the book constantly keep the reader flipping pages frantically, attempting to anticipate what happens next and making it next to impossible for them to do so. While some moments are predictable, as happens commonly in books--even ones that aren't YA--most scenes keep the reader guessing up until the very last page.
Altogether, this was a great book and a promising beginning to another great series.
If you want more information on the book and its author, Jonathan Stroud, you can visit the Lockwood & Co. website, where there is also a neat interactive video and links to buying this book and its sequel, The Whispering Skull.
Feel free to take the quiz below to see which agent of Lockwood and Co. you are. Any more questions or aspects of the book you liked/didn't like, please feel free to leave a comment.