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The screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud
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The screaming staircase (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Jonathan Stroud

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0941027,683 (4.13)68
Follows three young operatives of a Psychic Detection Agency as they battle an epidemic of ghosts in London.
Member:humouress
Title:The screaming staircase
Authors:Jonathan Stroud
Info:London : Doubleday, 2013.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:first of series, adventure, mystery, paranormal, children's, young adult, television adaptation, 2013

Work Information

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (2013)

  1. 10
    Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (nessreader)
    nessreader: strong likable girl heroes, the trappings of gothick (walking skeleton in skulduggery, ghost exorcism business in lockwood) without feeling creeping horror; the drama moves too briskly for that and the heroes take action rather than brooding
  2. 00
    Beastly Bones by William Ritter (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Similar in style
  3. 00
    Jackaby by William Ritter (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Similar style and theme
  4. 00
    Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James (motorbuffalo)
    motorbuffalo: MR James wrote quietly creepy ghost stories whose meandering tone and academic language hid a dark, frightening trap waiting to be sprung on the reader.
  5. 00
    The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs (motorbuffalo)
    motorbuffalo: If you like the Lockwood and Co. books I think you are likely to enjoy John Bellairs' books. The House With a Clock in its Walls is a good place to start. It has mystery, wizardry, and creeping horror.
  6. 01
    A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (Cloverlimes)
    Cloverlimes: Both 'A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking' and 'The Screaming Staircase' are fantasy YA novels where children do the dirty work. The 'Wizard's Guide' is more focused on action, where the 'Screaming Staircase' is more suspense/horror. The first also has a huge focus on baking, where the second is primarily focused on hunting spirits.… (more)
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» See also 68 mentions

English (96)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
I wanted to give this book a try after seeing the Netflix series. It was a disappointment to hear that it was cancelled, so I thought reading the books might be nice! I'm all for giving an understanding rating to juvenile books even as an older reader, but this one was unfortunate. While I loved the characters in the Netflix series, getting inside the head of Lucy Carlyle was no walk in the park, and the characterization of the boys also left something to be desired.

I almost wonder if Jonathan Stroud shouldn't have made Lucy a boy instead. She's so against every other female character she interacts with even briefly, including the ghost, describing them in rather unflattering terms (and I won't even go into how she talks about George, it's gross). Her "connection" to Annie is more one of curiosity than a genuine wish to get the girl some justice. And while there are some nice spooky elements to this story and fun interactions between the main characters, overall the main trio are flatter than pancakes, even by juvenile standards. ( )
  staygoldsunshine | Apr 23, 2024 |
Representation: N/A
Trigger warnings: Death of people in the past and suicide mentioned, dead bodies, fire, explosions, blood depiction, physical injury
Score: Seven out of ten.
Find this review on The StoryGraph.

I wanted to read this for a while but I put it off for a while. Months back, I added it to my TBR. Months later, it was finally time to read The Screaming Staircase. I glanced at the blurb, making it seem intriguing, even though I don't read that many horror books. When I closed the final page, it was enjoyable.

It starts with the first person I see, Lucy, living her life until she has to work for a company known as Lockwood and Co. Its purpose is to try and stop the problem that plagues the United Kingdom for 50 years now: an infestation of ghosts. Other organisations already exist to combat the issue, but Lucy landed in one of the smallest ones. There's even a governing body who oversees everyone who tries to stop the ghost epidemic, which the narrative mentions. The first ghost operation didn't go as planned, so the small group have only one chance to prove themselves with their next mission, which is to reside in a haunted house for a lengthy time to show their capabilities.

The Screaming Staircase is the first in a five instalment series, but no one has the other four. It's not clear what happens next, which is a problem, as some questions remain unanswered. Those questions concern the worldbuilding, and the most important one of them all is where did the ghosts come from? When was the first ghost-busting group established? I need answers. The glossary helps a little, but not a lot. The characters are likable, but not the most relatable. The pacing is okay as it's a slow burn, spanning 400 pages. At least there was an exciting beginning and ending, finishing The Screaming Staircase on a cliffhanger. Perhaps I might be wrong and the other four parts are out there. In that case, I'd be glad to read them as this creation from the author impressed me, and I want to read more from him.
( )
  Law_Books600 | Apr 6, 2024 |
{first of 5+1 in Lockwood & Co.; fantasy, adventure, mystery, paranormal, children's, young adult, television adaptation}(2013)

The story is told from Lucy Carlysle's point of view in the first person and opens as she and Lockwood (of Lockwood and Company) are about to enter a house on a case; Lockwood is a somewhat irrepressible character:
And above all don’t impersonate the client. Please. It never goes down well.’

‘That’s an awful lot of don’ts, Lucy,’ Lockwood said.

‘Too right it is.’

‘You know I’ve got an excellent ear for accents. I copy people without thinking.’

‘Fine, copy them quietly after the event. Not loudly, not in front of them, and particularly not when they’re a six-foot-six Irish dockworker with a speech impediment, and we’re a good half-mile from the public road.’
In this parallel universe Britain has been afflicted by the Problem for the last fifty years or so, where all manner of paranormal activities and hauntings (classified as Types 1, 2 or 3) have sprung up all over the country with potentially fatal results and only children can sense the apparitions. As darkness falls, curfew is called when everyone goes indoors, safe behind iron and salt, and only children go out to work either as guards or - the more sensitive ones - to work for agencies, banishing the Visitors. Most agencies do some work for the government, specifically with the department known as DEPRAC (Department of Psychical Research and Control), and they all have adult supervisors who used to be agents but are no longer sensitive.

Lockwood and company, as we discover through Lucy's flashbacks, are the only agency with no adults - consisting solely, in fact, of (Anthony) Lockwood, George and Lucy, all around 14 to 16 years old - and not linked to DEPRAC (although Inspector Barnes drops by from time to time when things aren't looking good). Lockwood owns the house (the details of how are only hinted at vaguely) in which they all live and work and can convince them (Lucy, anyway; George likes to research cases thoroughly first - if he's given the chance) to take the most dangerous risks on the strength of his smile.
He switched on his fullest, most radiant smile.

Barnes winced. ‘Put those teeth away. It's too early in the morning and I haven't had my breakfast'
I liked the banter; there was enough to keep it somewhat lighthearted without being overwhelming.

This seems to be set in a parallel London (although at one point Lucy 'fixed tea' which sounded odd) of about 40 years ago, where there are cars and telephones and Velcro but no mobile phones and ladies wear hats.

On the first case that we see (not Lucy's first, as she has been with Lockwood and Company - her second agency - for six months at this point) they have been called in by a widow whose husband fell down the stairs and now she feels a presence in the house. In solving the case, Lucy finds a necklace which involves them in another case. Meanwhile, desperate for business to keep the company afloat, Lockwood accepts a case at a manor house in Berkshire which has been haunted for centuries and where more deaths keep occurring - including a team from one of the oldest and best ghost agencies.

Wow, this was a nail biting page turner! And a BB from another LTer (thanks!) who also seems to be a fan of the Netflix series based on this books series - another thing I need to look into. The edition I borrowed from the library had a preface by the author complementing the Netflix actors and setting. The plotting was good, the pacing was good and I didn't want to put this book down (though I may have wanted to look away at times). And though it's about paranormal Visitors, it wasn't a scary book (I don't read horror) though there was plenty of tension.

The title reminded me of the Nancy Drew stories I used to read as a child - but this is nothing like! This was a good book and I'll be looking for the rest of the series. It's billed as a children's/ young adult's book but doesn't talk down to its audience. I've recommended it to my 15 year old son, too, since he's a Skulduggery Pleasant fan - let's see what he thinks.

ETA: I watched the first episode of the Netflix series last night and introduced my husband to it, too. I found it fascinating comparing it to the book though he found it a bit scary (though he used to be into horror - which I can't watch).

And, of course, a good cup of tea is absolutely essential.
But tea bags, brown and fresh and plenty of them, and made (for preference) by Pitkin Brothers of Bond Street, are perhaps the simplest and best of all.

OK, they may not save your life like a sword-tip or an iron circle can, and they haven‘t the protective power of a sudden wall of fire. But they do provide something just as vital. They help to keep you sane.

February 2024
4.5-5 stars ( )
  humouress | Feb 23, 2024 |
I say this with the deepest respect for Mr. Stroud's work and talents: This book reminded me of Scooby-Doo. Like the best possible Scooby-Doo! No, better than the best possibly Scooby-Doo (while still being pretty Scooby-Doo-ish).

Look, this book seriously gave me nightmares. Not as a I was reading it, but a few weeks after finishing it I had this terrifying nightmare about a room filled with blood and I woke up and thought, "Screaming staircases!" So clearly I don't mean to say that this book is cartoonish. Or that it has a talking dog.

But it is about a crew of kids solving ghost mysteries. It's a Gothic Ghost Busters. I enjoyed the mystery aspect and thought it was very moody and atmospheric. The relationships between the three main characters were great. You have Lockwood (the serious and talented boss), Lucy (the up and comer and our main POV character) and George (a slob but sharp as a tack). There is no love triangle here! Thank goodness.

I look forward to the next one! ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
3.5

This was fun! I liked that they talked in British, and the worldbuilding was really cool.

I have to address George's character. We aren't supposed to like him that much. He is lazy and argumentative and fat. And George being fat gets brought up every time he is mentioned, like it's a fault in his character. When was this book written? 2013 or the 1980's??

It was missing something- sometimes it just dragged, I think. But I liked it overall!

( )
  telamy | Nov 6, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Stroudprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, KateIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ayers, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cravero, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jung, GeraldÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgaß, KatharinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raison, MirandaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yuen, SammyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mum & Dad, with love
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Of the first few hauntings I investigated with Lockwood & Co. I intend to say little, in part to protect the identity of the victims, in part because of the gruesome nature of the incidents, but mainly because in a variety of ingenious ways, we succeeded in messing them all up.
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Follows three young operatives of a Psychic Detection Agency as they battle an epidemic of ghosts in London.

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Haiku summary
Things that go bump in
the night: who are you gonna
call? Lockwood & Co.!
(passion4reading)

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