Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

If you are a fan of Supernatural or BBC’s Sherlock, then chances are you’ll love this.

It feels like a mix of the two shows, a sort of supernatural sleuth story, and perhaps if the characters of the shows were in their teens. It is set either in an alternate present, or not too far into our own future, where it has emerged that ghosts are in fact real – and some are pretty dangerous to human beings. Since a yet unknown and unexplained event in the past, ghosts have been visible and active around the country, and as a result ‘agencies’ have sprung up; agencies that are almost like supernatural police. Armed with various implements made of iron, silver and salt (Dean and Sam would be proud), the agencies take on cases to rid houses or areas of supernatural beings. Lockwood & Co is one of these agencies, albeit a small one, and made up of just three agents: (Anthony) Lockwood himself, Lucy and George.

The characterisation in the novel was fantastic. Lockwood is like a teenage Sherlock: inquisitive, extremely intelligent and passionate, whilst also being perhaps a little socially inept and reckless. He is quite a mysterious character, even Lucy doesn’t know all that much about his background. Both Lucy and George are the Watsons to Lockwood’s Sherlock. George is the researcher of the group, studying and writing, whereas Lucy is the down-to-earth one. She is also the narrator of the tale, and to me her voice even seemed reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle’s tone of writing.

As for the plot and events – some of the ghosts the trio encounter were incredibly creepy! It’s impressive that a book that had many humorous moments also managed to really freak me out at some points. And it wasn’t done through the sights, but Stroud’s descriptions of the feelings and sounds that come with a haunting, which really captured an ethereal feeling. The classification system of the ghosts was clever and meant the reader could instantly assess just how much danger the characters were in.

A brilliant take on the paranormal genre, with a pretty unique concept, especially for Young Adult fiction where the concentration seems to be on vampires and werewolves. I’ve always been aware of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy, but never read it, and after reading this fantastic book I may now have to reconsider that decision.

It has the Official Castiel Seal of Approval, so it’s got to be good, right?

10 thoughts on “Review: The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud”

  1. I have been trying to read more YA and be less of a curmudgeon about it so i appreciate finding stuff like this that leaves the PR that so much popular YA falls into. Looks like a smart start to a series. Not a big fan of ghosts usually, but don’t hate them enough to pass over good books.

    1. It definitely does feel like a smart book! The tone is so different from that of most YA novels, like I mentioned it does actually remind me a little of Conan Doyle. The only other YA book that has really impressed me with its tone and voice is Incarnation by Emma Cornwall – the author really went to the trouble of writing it like Lucy, the protagonist, was alive in the nineteenth century.

  2. ‘If your a fan of Sherlock….’ SOLD! I have a copy of this and I have been meaning to read it but I wasn’t sure about it. But with only skimming your review I think I’m going to need to read this sooner. Brilliant review, Rinn! πŸ™‚

    1. Do ittttt =D I’m looking forward to the next book, I have no idea how many are planned but it was really fun and surprisingly creepy in parts… Plus it was quite possibly the nicest formatted ARC I’ve ever read – it was practically a final copy, complete with illustrations/chapter dividers.

  3. I saw this book before but passed because I thought it was more middle grade! Now I regret it – it sounds fantastic, I will add it to my TBR list! Like the commenter above, I was sold by the mention of Sherlock alone! πŸ™‚ And I’m really looking forward to meeting the creepy ghosts!

    1. Nope, I guess it’s definitely fine for that age group but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable to me =) The characters are fifteen onwards (I think) so they’re in their teens at least. I was surprised at how creepy some of the ghosts actually appeared to be honest =o

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