Review - Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase - Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)Title: The Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Middle-grade, Young-Adult, Horror
Publication: August 29th 2013, Doubleday Children's Books
Pages: 440 pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you so much to RandomStruik for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 Cupcakes!
Hauntings are our business . . .
Ghosts crowd the streets and houses of London. Anthony Lockwood, with his slightly grumpy deputy George, and his junior field operative Lucy, make up LOCKWOOD & CO, the small, shabby yet talented ghost-hunting agency.
After a series of calamitous investigations into the supernatural go awry, the team are desperate to prove themselves. Their opportunity comes in the form of a terrifying ghost, the Red Duke. But little do they know what perils lie in store for them at the haunted Bliss Hall . . .
When I received The Screaming Staircase to review, I instantly knew I was going to love it. It sounded like it had a unique premise as you don't generally get many books these days that focus on a ghost-hunting agency. And I did love it. More than I thought I would.

I don't do horror/ghost stories or movies, however, because this book was written so incredibly perfectly, I felt the perfect blend of fearfulness but not that feeling of complete terror. There were some hair-raising moments. Moments where I would move from the room I was currently occupying to a room where my parents were sitting, moments where when it started growing colder in the room my thoughts would immediately think "This is what happens when a ghost is near", moments where I regretfully had to put the book down to sleep, I would stay away a little longer listening to any abnormal sounds and having an accelerated heart-beat if I did hear anything (which would more often than not turn out to be a pigeon, seeking comfort on my roof). And whilst reading some of Lockwood, Lucy and George's adventures, I would get a shivering unease creeping through my body as to not knowing what would happen next to the characters I loved, however, I can honestly say I loved every single minute of it.

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase is about a small, unknown ghost agency in London, made up of three youngsters, Lockwood, George and the newest employee, Lucy, who takes up the role as junior field operative. These three together make up Lockwood & Co, which is a small, but very talented agency, amidst hordes of larger, popular agencies. Many ghost hunters have been needed since the start of the Problem, 50 years ago, when ghosts started occurring more and more and unleashing their pent up fury on innocent humans. In London, people happily go along their business as long as the sun is up, but when the dark starts to invade they hurry home to get safely inside where they will be protected by the iron doors, the lavender and the ghost lamps.

When Lockwood and his agents embark on a case that goes quite awry and the house ends up in flames, their barely-there reputation dwindles even lower. However, when they are offered a high-profile case for a generous amount of money by one of the richest men to reside in London, owner of an iron supplier company, Lockwood & Co can't turn down the offer. However, before they accept the case, they need to do a long risking their lives to save their business by spending a night in one of Britain's most haunted houses worth it?

The plot was amazing, there were so many unexpected surprises, so many blood-curdling moments, a mystery within a mystery. There was non-stop action. Jonathan Stroud is an incredible writer, to so artfully create such an impeccable book. There was not one minute that I wasn't enjoying myself. He managed to create the perfect blend of horror, humour, seriousness and fun into this already fantastic book. The pacing was neither too fast, nor too slow, I was constantly gripped by the author's words and could scarcely lift my eyes from the page. When I had to put the book down to study or do chores, all that would occupy my mind was as to what was going to happen next. This book should come with a warning that states how much fun you are going to have reading it, and don't pick-it up unless you have a few days free time. 

The characters were utterly perfect in their own right too. Lucy, the narrator of the novel was perfect! She was feisty, brave and sarcastic too, and I admired her for being so brave as to go and kill some terrifying ghosts. I also loved however, that through her bravery, she also let us see that there were times she was seized by complete, over-whelming terror, I loved how she revealed her inner emotions to us, she had her flaws and showed us she had emotional depth. Definitely one of my new favourite heroines.

I also loved Lucy's Talent. The way that she could sense the fear, pain and utter terror when a certain ghost is in the vicinity. I loved how we, as readers, could feel like we were experiencing the emotions too and how at times we could sympathise with the ghosts our self. 

Then there is the owner and leader of Lockwood & Co, from the moment I was introduced to him, I instantly fell in love with his whole character and personality. He was friendly and sweet. Whenever someone was rude to him or disparaged him or his business he would be friendly and polite anyway. However, despite his spirited, vibrant, care-free attitude, there was an under-lying sadness that I sometimes witnessed, as he has been through a lot and despite his best efforts to be brave and dauntless, you could sometimes see the sadness he carries. I really admired Lockwood though, he was just a young boy running a company, which, at times, received criticism. He exuded maturity and did whatever he needed to be done in a professional manner. And when someone did belittle his company, or his young age, he rose to the unspoken challenge and proved numerously that Lockwood & Co is indeed the best there is.  

Then there was George who I found extremely likeable and I think he made the book even better (although it was already fabulous from the beginning). He was such a cute character and I felt that sometimes he was over-looked and placed in Lucy and Lockwood's shadow. He was the cautious one in the agency, the one that wanted to thoroughly look into a case and he was the one that generally ended up saving everyone by his precise planning, thirst for knowledge and witty humour.

Another thing I must praise before I end this review, is that I love the witty, sarcastic banter between the characters. I love it when authors are able to bring some light as to what would perhaps be a dark book, otherwise. Their personalities and the relationships between all the characters were extremely well developed. I trust that if you read this novel, you will fall in love with them all, as I did.

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase is an utterly outstanding novel that everyone must have the pleasure of reading! As you read it, you will enjoy being immersed into the eerie, hair-raising atmosphere and shrieking at some moments from terror, and at other parts because of sheer delight! The characters are immensely real and once you close the book, you just want to start it from the the beginning all over again so that you can spend time drinking tea, plotting plans and, of course, eating doughnuts. This book is unputdownable, and will have you transfixed until you read the last page. The storyline was phenomenal too and I wasn't expecting that resolution at all! The second book can't come sooner. 

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!