Saturday, 10 August 2013

Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Title: The Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Author Info: Website|Blog|Twitter|Facebook
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: 29th August 2013

Tell Me About It
Hauntings are our business . . .

Ghosts crowd the streets and houses of London. Anthony Lockwood, with his slightly grumpy deputy George, and his junior field operative Lucy, make up LOCKWOOD & CO, the small, shabby yet talented ghost-hunting agency.

After a series of calamitous investigations into the supernatural go awry, the team are desperate to prove themselves. Their opportunity comes in the form of a terrifying ghost, the Red Duke. But little do they know what perils lie in store for them at the haunted Bliss Hall . . .
[Image taken from back of UK proof]

My Thoughts
I first heard about The Screaming Staircase at a blogger event where the author talked about it and even brought an example of a ghost hunting kit with him.  When I was contacted about reviewing the book I didn't hesitate in accepting.  When it arrived I was ridiculously excited to discover that it had an interactive cover when you hold it in front of the Totally Random app on my iPad.  I may have shown this to everyone who would stop and look.
After I had finished my current read I made a start on The Screaming Staircase.  When I began reading I thought that the narrator would be Lockwood, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the narrator is Lucy Joan Carlyle, she is a new member of Lockwood & Co., a team of young people, George and Lockwood, who solve hauntings.

In the world Jonathan has created, younger children see ghosts and spirits, or Visitors as they are known, better than older ones and adults.  If they have the Talent they are employed to work at solving the hauntings.  Not everyone has the Talent though, and some have more than others and have different types of Talent.  Lucy is able to hear them better than others and as the story progresses we discover another part of her ability, Lockwood is able to see them better than others, meaning he is usually the first one to see them appear.
I like how when we first begin reading we are immediatley in the middle of an investigation and we get to see how this team works, or not works, together with some hilarious effects and a not so hilarious aftermath for the owners.  We are then given the history of The Problem, and learn about the narrator Lucy, and how she came to be a member of Lockwood & Co.  I loved the interview process and would recommend part of this for all future interviews for any job....more the tea and biscuits part and not the ghost part.

I really liked how the history of The Problem is explained in a relevant place and fits in nicely where the story is at that time, and while I liked the idea behind the story and I enjoyed it, I wouldn't say I loved it.  For me it took a long time for it to mention The Screaming Staircase  which the book takes it title from, and then I felt like it was over too quick.  I understand that the world has to be built up for us and that there are other investigations and problems that this team face, but I would have liked to have heard about The Screaming Staircase sooner than I did.

When we do  find out about The Screaming Staircase, they go to investigate, they get results, the end.  After the long build up towards the event, it ended too soon with lots of unanswered questions, which of course makes me want to read the next book in the series to find out if these questions get answered. Overall The Screaming Staircase is an enjoyable read that definitely keeps you engrossed in the pages.

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