Lockwood & Co. #1 by Jonathan Stroud
Published in: 2013
After listening to this book on audio I have decided that going forward any story with ghosts in it should be listened to on audio instead of read. Huge difference between reading ‘Tap tap tap” and hearing something like “Tap………Tap……….Tap”
In the Screaming Staircase, Lucy Carlyle joins Lockwood & Co, Psychic Detective Agency. Currently, London is being overrun by ghosts, spirits, and haunts that only children can see and detect. To counteract these paranormal activities, there are several psychic detective agencies who take jobs to locate the source and destroy it or incapacitate it in some way. Most of these agencies have adult supervision, but it is not necessarily required by law. Lockwood and Co. is one of those companies that has no adults – just children. In this story, Lockwood & Co. is offered an assignment at the infamous Carey Combe Hall, which has the legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room. Lockwood immediately agrees to take the assignment, even though the last psychic detective agency who attempted it did not survive the night.
This story is in the Middle Grade genre, but is truly a story that any age would be able to enjoy. I enjoy middle grade because you can suspend reality and still it all makes sense. Children who own a business and live by themselves without any adult supervision – yes, that sounds perfectly normal to me. Mainly because the world building is very detailed. Early on the author shows us how this world works and very skillfully makes it believable – we learn of how only children can see or hear ghosts, of how the detective agencies are run, as well as learn about the deadly ramifications when someone makes a mistake or loses their nerve. The children’s fear is real because it is understood that not everyone survives ghost encounters. We aren’t just told, but instead provided with several specific examples of this.
But this story is more than a book about kids hunting ghosts. It is about correcting mistakes, finding a better path for yourself, solving mysteries, and doing whatever is necessary to ensure there is enough business coming into Lockwood & Co. to keep it going. In addition, there are several reoccurring themes that can be used to tie future books in this series together.
Audio Book Review
The Screaming Staircase is narrated by Miranda Raison. Miranda does a terrific job providing unique voices, but what I really respect is the amount of drama she put into just simple phrases – especially since this is a book dealing with ghosts and other supernatural elements and where having a ‘controlled scared’ is important. One such instance was when Lucy needed to get Lockwood’s attention without sounding panicked and frightened. It went from a quiet “Lockwood” to adding a bit more panic into “Lockwood” and then finally to full on panic. She eventually gets his attention, but she also gets the ghost’s attention too, which is what she didn’t want to happen.
This audio book was a tremendous random find at the library. Enjoyed it so much that I have already picked up book 2 “The Whispering Skull” on audio book as well. I highly recommend it for everyone to read.