The Screaming Staircase is the first book in Jonathon Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. series. It is a creepy ghost story murder mystery featuring young teen and pre-teen protagonists and it kept this many-years-past-her-teens lady up at night. There were some things about the world building that bothered me, though I can see why Stroud did what he did, however as a whole this book was highly enjoyable and I will be checking out the remaining four books in the series.
This book is set in an alternate universe London, a London that has a ghost problem. You see, fifty years ago, give or take, ghosts started being a real problem for the people of England. The traditional methods of iron, silver, and lavender work, but those most capable of fighting them are children. Because children are more open to psychic abilities. This is the one area I had a problem with in the world building. It works, because it allows our protagonists to do their things without an adult coming in and talking sense, but I’ve never bought into the idea that children are somehow more magically inclined. In our universe, people stop getting scared by ghosts when they grow up because sense takes over and we are no longer ruled by our imaginations. In a world where ghosts actually exist? I have a hard time believing that those abilities would fade simply because someone grew up. And I’m getting sidetracked. At any rate, it bothered me but not enough to really detract from the book. Though there were times when I wished that our protagonists had SOME kind of adult supervision, because oh boy do they need it.
So yes, into this ghost plagued England we have three characters. Our POV character Lucy Carlyle who seeks work at the ghost hunting firm of Lockwood & Co. This firm is run by Anthony Lockwood and George somethingsomething. Lockwood & Co. get embroiled in a decades old murder mystery when they are asked to investigate someone’s house and discover a murdered young woman. The eponymous Screaming Staircase isn’t introduced until about halfway through the book, but oh is it worth it. I read the last half of this book in the midnight hours and it is a great creepifying book. Prevented me from going to sleep for a while, and I had to read a few pages of a less ghostly book in order to fully disengage my brain from the conviction that a ghost was going to get me.
I am, and always have been, very susceptible to ghost stories. And yet I love them. This was an enjoyable book, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series has to offer.