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on 18 September 2014
Actually, I doubted whether to give it five stars after all, because it's been so enjoyable.
In a world where paranormal phenomena have become usual and deadly dangerous, kids with psychic talents are responsible for protecting alive population from the dead. After one ghost raid gone wrong, three teens, Lockwood, George and Lucy, are compelled to accept a suspiciously timely case in the most haunted house of Britain, if they are to save their little psychic agency from bankruptcy.

As he has done before, Stroud creates, basing on modern Britain, a rich and fascinating parallel world. Luminous mists creeping through the street at night, curfews, charms, and children going around dark houses armed with rapiers and iron chains; the background/atmosphere building is subtle and brilliant.
The narrative pace is light and pleasant, without unnecessary padding, but never too hasty, either; full of good old fashioned action and of the author's characteristic sense of humour.
The main characters are teens dealing with adult problems, loyal, brave, nicely portrayed (specially Lucy and George) and mainly lovable.
I took one star off because, although this is partly an intrigue story, the characters show a slightly nagging tendency to look over clues; besides, team leader Lockwood seems to keep crucial information to himself for no reason, so the mystery resolution is not as interesting as it could have been. On the whole, though, it's been a very pleasant reading and I'm eagerly waiting for the second book.

Just one warning: I've seen negative critics from young kids and parents who had bougth the book for their 10 year old children, and they have a point. Editors and publishers may consider this book as for 9-11, because main characters don't dwell on sex or romantic dramas, but, even so, its best qualities are better appreciated by more mature readers: the atmosphere (you relate better to it if you have seen some ghost movies; besides, you must have the patience to read descriptions), the absolute lack of soppiness (teen protagonists even sneer at "unhealthy and obsessive love relationships"), and the overall sensation of moving in a dangerous world facing death and adult dilemmas.
So I wouldn't handle this book to anyone younger than 14, unless he/she is a real bookworm.
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on 18 February 2014
This is my first book by Jonathan Stroud and I can guarantee it won’t be my last. Instantly I fell in love with Jonathan’s sense of humour. He really is a very witty writer and the banter that jumps between his three main characters kept me entertained all the way through the book. There is a certain Britishness to their tone and manner. Their need to think things through over a cup of tea had me nodding my head in agreement.

The book appears to be set in an alternate London. A London where it is normal for every kid to see ghosts, but it still holds elements of the London we have now.

Lucy is an extremely strong character. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and she comes across as more capable and in control than either of her male companions. Lockwood gives me the impression, that if offered the job, he would make an excellent Dr Who. There is an air of mystery surrounding him; visible through the way he thinks and works. I don’t think we’ve seen the real Lockwood quite yet. I felt he was hiding something. George, bless him, he comes across like a bumbling snail. Plodding along, working through the details while Lockwood and Lucy race into everything head first.

The story has lots of scary elements to it. Not sure I would be heading to Combe Carey in a hurry. There was so much evil emanating from it, I’m surprised by the bravery of these three characters.

I thought the plot was brilliant and I was completely entertained all the way through the story, even to the nail biting end. This is the first book in the series and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it, but I shall definitely be waiting with baited breath for the second book.
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on 29 August 2013
In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shortest ever review and leave it at that, because it summarises the book so well: freaking brilliant. (Well, freaky and brilliant, really).

Then I thought it might help to elaborate. My expectations were set extremely high when I first heard about this book. It ticked all the right boxes for me--great author, alternative London setting, a cavalier hero, smart female narrator. Plus, actually having Jonathan Stroud there demonstrating how to fight ghosts with a rapier, salt, chains and a teapot was pretty perfect.

In this version of England, there is a Problem--ghosts are everywhere and their touch can kill. You can feel them, but you eventually can't see them. As people grow older, their ability to see ghosts fades away. Enter Lockwood & Co., a small agency founded by teenager Anthony Lockwood to help those with a Visitor problem. Unlike the big corporations with legacy adults running the show, Lockwood & Co. is solely run by our three young protagonists.

Our narrator is Lucy Carlyle, a trainee who possesses superior ghost `empathy'. She moved down to London due to an incident where she used to work and after countless applications (at other firms), ends up as the newest employee of Lockwood & Co. As luck would have it, one Lucy and Lockwood's cases...goes up in smoke, which leads to the little company owing a lot of money and having to risk all by taking on a huge case potentially out of their depths.

This book had some seriously chilling moments. These are not friendly ghosts Lockwood & Co. deal with--they are vengeful, dark spirits that cause extreme terror and harm. When our heroes eventually face the titular screaming staircase, I was truly frightened, not to mention a certain encounter with a floating head (yes, I am a scaredy cat, but just wait until you read it).

That said, the book's tone is generally light (yes, it's light and scary, I don't know how Stroud manages this brilliance). The banter between Lockwood, Lucy and the third member of the trio, the cynical researcher George Cubbins is extremely fun to read, especially as they live together and have to get used to each other's odd habits. I love the humorous understatements in the face of true danger, something I've come to know and love from Stroud's writing. Of course, there are the required tea and biscuit breaks, which adds to the British charm.

My only gripe about reading this book early is that I now have to wait even longer for the sequel. I'm excited to see the world-building get even deeper, learn more about Lucy's abilities and discover the cause of the true mystery behind the Problem. Recommended for absolutely everyone, kids and adults alike will be enthralled by it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 20 August 2015
The first in a new series from Stroud, a talented fantasy writer for young people. He doesn't write down to them, he doesn't shield them from gruesome deaths - and he puts in lots of ghosts. Brilliant.

Fifty(ish) years ago, our country started seeing increasing numbers of hauntings. These can be deadly to the living, and have severely restricted people's freedom of movement after dark. It's only the young who can sense them clearly, and hence the creation of a series of agencies staffed by children and teenagers, who hunt, fight and destroy the deadly creatures.

One such agency is the rundown Lockwood and Co, with its newest recruit Lucy joining Lockwood and his associate George as they seek high-paying jobs to keep the company afloat against the bigger agencies, meeting triumph and disaster along the way...

It's an exciting story, not too scary, though I would say for the over 10s. The different categories of ghost are pretty fascinating, and Stroud's creation of a ghost-filled world is chilling at times, though I'm not any sort of believer.

The trio manage to keep their banter going throughout, there's mystery and danger, a Tardis of an agency to explore, some very interesting hauntings to accompany them on, and if you enjoy it - further books to follow!

It is quite long, but speeds along nicely once you've started. Having male and female leads works well. At times Lockwood himself doesn't seem like a teenager, he seems much too old and world-weary for the age he actually is. All of the young people do though, as they've had to grow up to take on these roles that actual adults aren't able to fill. It didn't feel awkward though, watching them act the grown-up. It's quite nice to see the police and others in authority taking them (mostly) more seriously.

And they get very cool weapons!

This is one I'm going to be recommending my Junior Book Club try.
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on 26 November 2013
This spine chilling, spooky tale is the first instalment of what I predict will be an extremely popular children's series. It is a fantasy story about Ghost hunters and otherworldly spirits, set within a Victorian-esque world wherein a company called Lockwood & Co. work in secret to {in essence} `save the world'. This chilling tale full of suspense, humour and terrifying ghosts will keep you wide-awake through the night reading into the early hours. Set in a city stalked by sceptres, the teenage ghost hunters' duo is tasked with spending a night in one of the most haunted houses you will ever encounter! This element brought to mind a book called Feather Boy in which a young lad is challenged to sleep in a deserted, sinister building filled with ghosts of the past and memories.

There are several Psychic Investigation Agencies within this world that Stroud has created, but none can compare to Lockwood & Co. which is reminiscent of secret `Torchwood' or `Doctor Who' {or UNIT} as it has that alien feel to it. Fast-paced, surprising and exciting this thrilling adventure is a paranormal mystery merged together with a sci-fi backdrop, complete with the 'old-style' type of scary ~ such as what you would find in `The Woman in Black' {creaking doors, shadows, cold ect}.

The main character Lucy is a likeable, role model teen who many young readers will admire and be able to easily relate to and connect with. She is gutsy and a fantastic protagonist, and I especially liked how the author includes details on her past history and how she came to be in the employment of Lockwood & Co.. If you enjoy paranormal stories {such as the bone season for instance}, or spooky tales {for example Delaney's SPOOKS Series} then I would highly recommend that you try this book, as you will be in for a real treat! With a contemporary feel and lots of action and exciting drama this compelling read is engaging and completely unputdownable. It is ideal for the target readership {children & younger teens}, as it isn't too scary but has the right balance of detailed descriptions and parts in which your own imagination is left to take over.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, having been drawn to its striking cover that certainly stands-out in the dark. I would recommend this as a gripping tale that is well worth considering reading and I look forward to more adventures from Lockwood & Co. I would like to thank Random House as well as the author for the chance to read this wonderful story. 4 stars

*I won a hardback copy of `The Screaming Staircase' by Jonathan Stroud through a Goodreads, first-read book giveaway*
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Before I started Lockwood & Co: Screaming Staircase, I had been really excited to read it because I had been given the chance to meet Jonathan Stoud and hear him talk about his book. Through his personality, it was easy to see that he had a good sense of humour and that his newest book was most likely going to be one that I’d enjoy. I was instantly intrigued due to the storyline as I enjoy stories that centre around ghosts and so I knew that I would have to read this book as soon as I got my hands on it. And boy was I glad that I did. This book was one that was so incredible that I struggled to put it down, and ended up lending it to a friend because they simply had to read it.

In this book, Lockwood and George are on the lookout for someone to help them out with their ghost agency, and Lucy is looking for work in London. When they finally come together, it is clear that they are a trio that is meant to work together. Their job is to fight ghosts that have been sighted in homes because in this world, ghosts are incredibly dangerous and can kill you if they touch you. The plot of this book was riveting, funny, and full of tension and horrifying scenes. Jonathan Stroud has done an excellent job of writing a book that has you clinging to the pages in fright one minute to giggling softly to yourself the next. He has written a book with the perfect mix of emotions that has you quickly turning the page and refusing to put the book down.

It would be impossible to finish this review without mentioning the three main characters in this book. From the first moment I saw them all, I fell in love with them for lots of different reasons. Lockwood is a guy who doesn’t always think things through, he acts rashly, but always does so with the best intentions. He is always coming up with grand schemes to save things but doesn’t think them through or talk about them, always just expecting them to work in the best possible way. I loved that about his character as you could really imagine meeting someone like him. George on the other hand was someone who never stopped thinking. He did a lot of research, he was stubborn and always tries to put Lockwood in his place but essentially he’s also still just a curious kid who worries about his best friend. He was such a loveable character.

And then there is Lucy. A new character to the trio but nonetheless a great one. She was fierce, strong, and also had a shaded past that caused her to act in certain ways. She was protective, but also freaked out a little bit. She was intuitive, secretive, and had an amazing gut instinct. A truly amazing character that you can’t help but want to read more about. As a trio, they all just work so well together and I loved the dynamics of the relationship. It was these characters that really made this book ten times better for me. They were characters to root for, and ones that you just didn’t want to stop reading about.

Aside from the characters, the other reason that I kept turning the pages and reading was because of the writing style. Jonathan Stroud simply has a way with words that keeps you entertained. When it was needed, he was able to bring tension and horror to the pages, before adding in a touch of humour that had you giggling. It was informative writing with the perfect amount of description and it shows that Jonathan is just an incredibly talented writer. It is a truth that I will now be reading the rest of Jonathan’s work because I am truly enamoured with his writing style. I also cannot wait for the next book in the Lockwood & Co series as I just truly loved this book.

When I finished this book, I put it down on the side of the bed and literally sat for about an hour just thinking about the amazing story I had just read. It didn’t leave my mind for days after finishing it and I soon found myself inspired by the story, writing a piece of original fiction (short story) that was wholly inspired by the book. Then, a month or so after that, I came up with another idea and am now currently in the middle of filming something inspired by this book. I am telling you this to show you how much I absolutely adored Lockwood & Co: Screaming Staircase. This was a book that blew me away in a way that I haven’t felt in an incredibly long time. It is captivating, interesting, and just a powerful story that I guarantee you will love. So if you’re looking for a book to read that is scary, funny, and full of heart, with amazing characters and a grand storyline, then you should definitely start reading Lockwood & Co: Screaming Staircase.
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on 22 July 2014
I totally fell in love with this book. I loved the whole concept of ghosts being the Problem (with a capital P)it was almost like pest control but for ghosts rather than bugs and a bit more death involved.

I was wondering how the author would top his last series but this is just as funny, and though there's still huge mysteries surrounding Lockwood, I totally love Lucy as the main character and even George has grown on me.

Lockwood's wit reminded me heavily of Bartimaeus the Djinni which was awesome because I was worried it wouldn't live up to the standards of humor Mr Stroud had already set.
This is somewhat darker in one sense and creepier and the premise is very original. Ghost stories have been done so many times it's hard to find something that jumps out, yet this does and with great clarity.

It sounds so scientific at the same time too, which I was kinda impressed with. Not to mention I was reading the scene with Lucy in her bedroom at night and I was thoroughly glad I was reading it in daylight. And I was even more glad I was reading it during the day when I got to the end of the novel. My next challenge is to read the sequel in the dark by light of my kindle.

I'd like to conclude this review by saying that if you're on the fence as to whether you should read this then take my advice and read it. Yes, it's aimed at children and teens but it's so funny, scary and really adventurous. Bring out that inner child. You know you want too!
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on 28 December 2013
I LOVE this book. I love the slightly odd narrative structure (it starts in the middle, then goes back to the beginning - which wouldn't necessarily work, but it does). I love the odd timeless setting. There is a veneer of Victoriana about it all, but then there are cars and TV and people wear jeans - but there don't appear to be any computers or mobile phones. In the end, I decided it was a sort of alternate 1970s - but the 70s as written by E Nesbit. Which makes sense in an odd sort of way - the author grew up in the 70s (as did I) probably reading much older children's books.

The characters are great. Although you don't learn a huge amount about either Lockwood himself or George, I am confident their stories will be brought in as the sequence develops.

It's funny in appropriate places. It is REALLY creepy in places. It's exciting. It's inventive, and although very high concept, it is well thought through and convincing. I had no trouble at all suspending my disbelief (and I sometimes do with these sorts of things).

It was also a great relief to read a book about teenagers with no moping, angst, self-obsession of blummin love triangles! I can't recommend it enough. And although I saw exactly how the twist was going to work out, that didn't detract from the fun at all. I enjoyed the journey.

I'm now off to find everything else Jonathan Stroud has written. There are clearly more installments to come in this sequence, and I am looking forward to them with high anticipation.
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2014
If you have read any of Jonathan Stroud’s other works such as the books in the Bartimaeus Sequence you know you are onto a winner. If you are new to his work then you’ll find in this offering that there is Ghost hunting, - where Ghosts kill, cause murder and mayhem. From the get go the book is great read, and once again the Mr Stroud’s abilities to generate some quirky but always well rounded and interesting characters is amazing. Really what is there not like about this book? In short this very good story telling and please do not pigeon hole yourself over which age group may read it, whether you in your teens or your sixties this book covers all.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 October 2013
You know they say that most real bookworms start reading at a young age and they tend to end up devouring books. (My bad, that description fits me perfectly) They also tend to remember certain books that started their path into specific genres or remain vivid in their memories for decades.
I think this might be one of those books that imprints a taste for a certain type of genre on young readers. It is witty, slightly dark and doesn't patronize the younger readers intellect or understanding. Stroud has fun with the characters and still manages to keep them at a level that the reader can relate to.
It is my first Stroud, but it certainly won't be my last.
The book is well-written with flamboyant characters and Stroud sets the mood for a suspenseful read.
It is an interesting mixture of horror, fantasy, mystery with wisps of paranormal. The characters are funny without being ridiculous and smart without sounding overbearing, which is of the utmost importance in a book aimed at 11+ readers.
After reading this I bought the Audiobook because I wanted to know how the story would sound as a narrated story. Definitely worth adding to the collection I share with my children.
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.
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