Title: The Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood and Co.
Recommended for: 4th grade and up
Call Number/Link: J STR
Synopsis: A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.
In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?
Review: Lockwood and Co. is a great combination of scary and funny with a steampunk vibe. Lockwood, Lucy and George are young, talented, and fearless, but their jobs often end in mass destruction. On one assignment they get rid of the ghost but end up burning down the house. Agents of the much larger, adult run agencies constantly mock them and try to steal their clients. The humor is balanced by the dark world Stroud has created. London has become overrun with ghosts whose touch can kill you and children are sent in to fight the deadly creatures. (They are the only ones who can see the ghosts.) In this world Stroud has placed interesting, complex characters. George seems slovenly and lazy but is an incredible researcher and loyal to the end. Lucy has seen her share of tragedy and also wrestles to control her talent to communicate with ghosts. And Lockwood is hiding a dark secret. What happened to his parents? How did he manage to inherit their estate and start and agency while still a young teen? What lies behind the locked bedroom door?
‘The Screaming Staircase’ is the first book in the Lockwood and Co. series. There are three books so far and I recommend them all.