The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. ★★★1/2
While I found The Screaming Staircase a tad predictable, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
For the last fifty years, England has been beset by a plague of supernatural spirits referred to as The Problem. Only children and teens are capable of seeing ghosts, so all agencies for dealing with hauntings rely on minors as their agents. After an investigation gone wrong, Lucy Carlyle has fled to London and taken up a position with Lockwood & Co., which is essentially three teenagers in a house investigating ghosts. The Screaming Staircase begins right in the middle of the action, with Lockwood and Lucy spending the night in a house where their client’s husband died. They soon encounter a ghost much more powerful than they expected. The result is one part ghost story, one part murder mystery, and a pretty entertaining ride.
I listened to The Screaming Staircase on audio, and I thought the narrator did a fine job. Her voice never took me out of the story, which is always the most important thing for me when it comes to an audio format.
Jonathan Stroud excels at writing creepy bits. So many scenes in The Screaming Staircase gave me a chill and kept me on the edge of my seat. Logically, I knew that our protagonists would probably make it out alive, but that didn’t dampen the anticipation any! Since this is aimed at a middle grade audience, it never passed my threshold for too much scariness either. I’ll readily admit it, I can be a wimp when it comes to horror novels.
As I mentioned earlier, the plot was predictable. I figured out who the villain was the instant he showed up, and everything from there played out pretty much as I predicted. It was made doubly annoying when Lockwood clearly knew what was going on but wasn’t telling the others for unexplained, plot related reasons.
I get the feeling that Lockwood’s an author’s darling. I never cared much for him. He just felt like a character type I’d seen so often before, and he didn’t draw me in. Same went for Lucy. Oh, personal opinion, this book could have used more women.
I had decided that I wasn’t going to read the sequel… and then the very end of the book threw in a twist! I’m so annoyed! Now I’m hooked and need to know more! Urgh!
It might take me a while to get to it, but you can expect to see more reviews on the Lockwood & Co. series.