2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Sunday, 19 October 2014

REVIEW: The Screaming Staircase - Jonathan Stroud

Sunday, 19 October 2014
GENRE: Childrens 9-12
PAGES: 480
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 4 Stars

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in...For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again...

Lately, through my love of Skulduggary Pleasant, I have been delving further and further in to adventure stories for children younger than the usual teen titles I read.

When Lockwood and Lucy discover the corpse of a young socialite in a house suffering from the Problem they vow to uncover her killer. Following the clues through a series of dangerous haunted houses and objects - not to mention the dangerous people - Lockwood and Lucy must try to find out the truth no matter what it costs them.

The Screaming Staircase ticks so many boxes for me. Ghosts. Check. Awesome female character I can relate to. Check. Gothic and ghoulish settings. Check. Oh, and the fact that this book is for a younger audience than Teen means I don't have to worry that the kick-ass adventure scenes are going to end in romance. Because boys are like, ew.

Lockwood and Co. is are based in an alternative England, where the 'problem' of hauntings has risen to an unstoppable level. Children, like our narrator Lucy, are more sensitive to seeing ghosts, and are recruited by agencies like Lockwood and Co. as hunting operatives. The way Stroud presents London is dark, with an almost Victorian feel. Part Ghostbusters, part Dickens and part Sherlock Holmes, The Screaming Staircase is full of the twists, turns and jumpy moments that I love, and  the easy humorous prose kept my attention well to the end.

Don't be fooled by it's 9-12 listing; it's the perfect crossover book. Lucy is about 15 and I think the writing is awesome. So, next time you walk past our 9-12 section, stop and take a look - there are many gems like this to find.

Recommended Reading

Skulduggery Pleasant - Derek Landy
Department 19 - Will Hill

- Bex.

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