The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)



So, if anyone knows me you’re probably thinking “Don’t you hate non-adult books???” But, aha, you’ve found my weakness. I hate YA. Definitely a genre I count as my least favorite, although I definitely have quite a few books I count as favorites. They’re the outliers for me. However, I absolutely love middle grade. Middle grade is my shit. This series is definitely a favorite of mine. Given that the fifth and final book came out earlier this month, I decided it was time for a reread. Plus, this is a buddy read with Chloe! Her first time and my second time.

This book has three main characters in it; Lucy, George, and Lockwood. Lucy is the absolute main character since she’s the one telling the story. Everything’s from her perspective. She’s brilliant and a strong female character since she doesn’t take shit from anyone. And, she also had her weaknesses that she struggles against. Certainly not a Mary-Sue.

George is just a sarcastic shit who loves to eat. He sounds a lot like me. No one really likes him in the group, yet they also love him.  He’s the official researcher for the group. He goes above and beyond, spending his time in the library. Basically, a lot like me. This summer, I did a literature review for one of my classes on Japanese sexuality, focusing mainly on heterosexuality and homosexuality. (Sorry to use that word but it’s the technically correct one.) A number of sources my prof wanted were five. I doubled or tripled that. The page number? I think I was two pages over. I love me some research.

Finally, there’s Lockwood. The easiest way to describe him is as a young Sherlock Holmes. I can’t give much more away than that since you find out more about him in later books and, well…

This whole book (and the series) is set in an unnamed time in an alternate universe where ghosts roam. Only kids can see them and save everyone. To me, it feels like the 1800s with children as a slave labor force. Then, it also distinctly feels a bit more modern, perhaps pushing into the 1950s. I love how Stroud doesn’t actually name the time so you can keep guessing.

In this, Lockwood & Co. take a case, fuck up very badly, and everything spirals to there. Until they have to take a case that is creepy as hell and certain death. This book really is creepy. I wouldn’t call it scary but it got my heart pumping even though I’d read this book before. It’s well-written and crafted well.

It’s a great time of the year for this series. I actually recommended this series to my coworker so her kid could read it. He’s 10 and loved it. Not too scary for him, so I’d hazard to say it’s all fine for most people. It’s also a good starting point for people unfamiliar with middle grade. There are no contemporary issues. All of this is wrapped around a good horror/mystery. Then, it also gives you a taste of the genre. What middle grade has in common with YA is that there are usually no adults present to help out, but they’re still there to fall back on.

So, this series is basically great and I think everyone should give it a try.

6 thoughts on “The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

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