Screams a-plenty, but ghostly in substance

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1)The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the cover and the title I expected this book to be set in the Victorian era. Imagine my surprise when I realised it is set in the present day!
I have mixed feelings about this book. It took a really long time to get going and I kind of feel like I have seen many of the characters before (some real cliches here).
The story centres around Lucy Carlyle, who has until recently been ghost hunting for a very reputable firm. Ghost hunters are the norm in London, due to “the Problem” of a dramatic surge in paranormal activity and entities. She has a particular talent for hearing the spirits and it is this that has helped to propel her through the ranks quite quickly. After a nasty incident that ended badly, she finds herself a free agent and lands a job with Lockwood and Co. This company, run by the flamboyant and young Anthony Lockwood and his assistant, George, is still in its infancy, but quickly gaining a reputation across London for being able to capture or eliminate ghosts that no other firm can. After a case where they manage to burn the client’s home to the ground, the trio are forced to take a dangerous job hunting down the ghost of one of the most haunted houses in England, the house with The Screaming Staircase.
Lucy could well be any “strong” female protagonist and I didn’t feel she was rounded out enough, even after 400 pages. Lockwood, the director of the company, reminded me too much of Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock in Elementary and George, the fat typecast “bookish” sidekick really annoyed me – I think it was just lazy writing.
That said, the book moves at a great pace and I found the action scenes certainly had me quickly turning the pages. There just wasn’t enough of that and I think this novel could have done just as well with 50 pages less. Just a note for the squeamish, it is a reasonably bloodthirsty story too.
I was disappointed overall and I wish I could give a half star (so, two and a half), but I have settled for three. Not a series I would pursue further, but I would dip into the next one to see if things had improved.
Ages 13 and up.

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One thought on “Screams a-plenty, but ghostly in substance

  1. Miffy F says:

    Reblogged this on Miffy reviews… and commented:
    Sue has echoed many of my misgivings about this book. Slow to get going, odd time-setting, under-developed characters,…and a gripping and scary resolution.

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