In all my days as a reader of horror fiction, there have only been a handful of books that kept me awake at night, this book did that and more. Neither could I stop reading it, nor could I stop cowering under my blanket while doing so. The first book in the series (created by the same genius who did the Bartimaeus Quadrology) ‘The Screaming Staircase’ tells the story of the smallest Psychic Agency in a ghost infested London, Lockwood and Co.
Thinking that this is a children’s book is not right, ‘The Screaming Staircase’ is a dark and daunting account of Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins and the protagonist Lucy Carlyle’s adventures as they tackle all sorts of paranormal beings. They are eventually hired to spend a night in the most haunted house in England to try to rid it of the unwelcome inhabitants. As Lockwood and Co. deal with the Screaming Staircase, The Red Room, the poltergeists and the spirits, you are taken on the horrifying journey with them by the impeccable writing skills of Jonathan Stroud. The tension is broken in smatterings by George’s comical behavior and his jibes with Lucy.
The characters all come alive from the very beginning as you are immediately dropped in the middle of the action where Lucy and Lockwood are investigating a ‘death-by-ghost’. Stroud, as usual, creates a new London: a city with ‘ghost lamps’, sunset curfews and a Government Agency called DEPRAC (Department of Psychic Research and Control) which controls all the ‘ghost-hunting agencies’ like Lockwood and Co. This new world, though highly dangerous, is kind of run by children since the adults can’t see the ghosts. They can only feel their presence and the effect they have on the environment.
If the promise of action, horror, humor and adventure doesn’t urge you to pick this book up and devour it, I don’t know what will!
Overall Rating: 9/10
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