The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase US

50 years ago, the Problem began. Haunts, spirits, and specters started appearing throughout the city of London and it is up to children with psychic abilities to eradicate these supernatural foes. 

Lucy Carlyle has just joined Lockwood & Co, a small ghost hunting agency led by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood that runs independently without any adult supervision. After a disastrous assignment, the fate of Lockwood & Co as well as the lives of Lucy, Anthony, and George, rests upon the completion a perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England.

This book was written so perfectly. Jonathan Stroud does not waste a single word. I felt the writing was a perfect blend of fearfulness and terror, but not to the extreme of other horror/supernatural books. There were some hair-raising, goosebump inducing moments. Moments where I would move from the room I was currently sitting to a room where my friends were, moments where when it started growing colder in the room my thoughts would immediately think “This is it. There’s a ghost behind me”. I would stay awake at night listening to any abnormal sounds that would make my heart race which would more often than not turn out to be the neighbors coming back from their drunken antics. And I don’t regret a minute of it. I’ve never such a strong reaction to a book since The Fault in Our Stars.

The plot of the book was just as good as the technical aspects of it. The action was placed just perfectly throughout the book and Stroud did a good job in changing up the pacing to fit the different scenes in the book.

The characters were also perfect. I didn’t have a particularly favorite character in the book which is usually a good or a bad thing. In this case, it was a good thing. I loved each and every one of the characters. I loved that Lucy was brave, but also flawed and wasn’t afraid to reveal her inner emotions to the reader. I loved Lockwood’s charm and admired his intelligence as well as George’s. Although I disliked George in the beginning of the book (which was not surprising since the story is told from Lucy’s point of view), his character slowly began to grow on me. His character reminded me of Hermione in a lot of ways. The characters all worked well with each other (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lockwood and Lucy ended up together in the future. Ship them!)

As good as the book was, I do have one complaint though. I felt the book was a bit predictable in the sense that you knew who the villain was going to be. Other than that, I have no quibbles and it doesn’t detract from the book in any way.

The Screaming Staircase is an outstanding debut novel for the series and I am genuinely excited for the sequel which is due to be out this year. As far as this reader is concerned, this was the best book of 2013.

★★★★★

Tell me, what did you think? Did you like The Screaming Staircase? Who was your favorite character? Let me know in the  comments below!

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