Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

I'm going to admit, up front, that I'm not a huge fan of Jonathan Stroud. I couldn't get into the Bartimaeus trilogy at all, no matter how much my friends raved about it. The description of this sounded like something I'd like, but it sat on my to read list for....a long time. However, at the end of 2015 I was determined to clean out my list and finally sat down to read this one. I was immediately hooked.

In an England infested by dangerous ghosts, spirits, and all manner of strange things, only children have the power to see - and fight - these terrifying and dangerous creatures. After a tragic betrayal, Lucy Carlyle flees her home, her family, and travels to London, hoping to find a new place in a ghost-hunting corporation. Unfortunately, nobody wants an inexperienced girl with a murky background. When she finds the eccentric Lockwood & Co. they're both desperate. Anthony is trying to run his own agency - the only one in London not supervised by adults - and Lucy needs a job and a home. Along with their somewhat nasty colleague George they team up to take on ghosts, snooty corporations, and whatever else comes their way.

Unfortunately, they get into trouble almost immediately. Lockwood isn't exactly the ideal supervisor, and they're all hiding secrets that could get them into serious trouble. When they get a commission to clean out the most ghost-ridden house in England, it seems like it could solve all their problems...if they manage to survive the experience.

After reading this, I realized that there were some inconsistencies that didn't make sense, but I didn't care when reading the book, I was having so much fun. I originally thought the story was set in a sort of alternate of Dickens' London, because of the description of street children and the general feel of the story. Then I realized there were automobiles. Then I decided I didn't care. The writing is so Well, fun is perhaps not the right word as it's quasi-horror, but I loved Lucy's character - she's not the typical "spunky" female character, she's a distinct person on her own, tough but with vulnerable aspects. Lockwood is very much a Sherlock Holmes type, but, like Lucy, has his secrets and more vulnerable side. The ghosts were horrible but not so terrifying that I felt it was a gore fest.

Verdict: I loved this and I wish I'd bought it when it came back. I'm going to rectify that now. As to who I'm going to give it to...that's a little trickier. I think it will appeal to kids who like adventure, mild horror, and well-written fantasies. However, it does fall in that gray area right between middle grade and teen and it's thick enough to be challenging. The new covers will appeal much more to the kids than the originals (my kids are very NOT into anything that looks remotely steampunk) and I will promote this to my high-level readers.

ISBN: 9781423164913; Published 2013 by Disney-Hyperion; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: