The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co.) by Jonathan Stroud
Description: When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood and Co. step in.. For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigation 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 and 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 specters, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humor and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again... (from Goodreads)
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Why I Picked This Book: This is a series I've been wanting to read for awhile and when my favorite podcast, Super Serials picked it to talk about I decided it was time I tried it!
My Impression: I've started and deleted this review about 6 times so I'm going to quit writing it out in the traditional way and divide it in pros and cons sections and see if that works better!
What I liked:
I didn't feel this book was written down to children. The writing is solid, the story is compelling, and the danger is very real.
The characters are interesting and I like that Anthony and Lucy are equals. Anthony comes across as a little bit more experienced and runs the actual agency but Lucy has her own talents and is most definitely not a damsel in distress. They act as a team with each one saving the other at some point. I like that neither character is made to seem helpless or incompetent though they both make mistakes.
While parents are very rarely a factor in Middle Grade books I found it intriguing that the entire dynamic has changed as adults are helpless to see the Visitors and must rely on children to fight off the danger.
The details about what kind of things they have to do to fight off the ghosts and how it has changed life in London.
Just the idea of researching a property. It sounds so fascinating and I'm with George about being frustrated with the lack of time Anthony allows him to prep. I'd want to spend all my time researching!
The setup for the series as a whole. While the primary problem in this book is resolved and it doesn't end in a cliffhanger at all there's so much potential for so many interesting stories as the kids deal with The Problem
What I didn't like:
The beginning was a little slow. It was never a bad read at the beginning but it took me a few chapters to be really pulled into the story.
George was a bit flat. While this isn't a character driven novel and none of the characters are really fully fleshed out George is kind of a comic figure in the background for most of the book. We don't get the look inside his head that we do for Lucy and Anthony.
I really enjoyed the setup for the series. The characters are really interesting and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better and seeing what happens next.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I'm really looking forward to their next case
Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes just be prepared for it to take a few chapters before you really connect with the characters.