Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase
New York: Disney-Hyperion, 2013
Children’s/Young Adult: JUV PR6069.T744S37 2013
“When you go out hunting wicked spirits, it’s the simple things that matter most. The silvered point of your rapier flashing in the dark; the iron filings scattered on the floor; the sealed canisters of best Greek Fire, ready as a last resort…But tea bags, brown and fresh and plentiful, and made (for preference) by Pitkin Brothers of Bond Street, are perhaps the simplest and best of all.” – page 13
For the last fifty years, England has been experiencing a Problem: the dead are returning to haunt the living and the hauntings are not very friendly. As only children can see the Visitors, only children can fight the Problem, so while adults carry iron talismans, make sure to be in by curfew, and turn on ghost-lights at night, psychic investigation agencies train England’s children to avoid ghost-lock, malaise, and a touch that brings death before sending them out with the tools of their new trade – rapiers, chains and iron filings, salt bombs and magnesium flares – to dispatch the varying Type One, Type Two, and rare Type Three Visitors haunting the island.
Lucy Carlyle began fighting England’s Visitors at age eight. With a Talent for listening, she grew to be one of the best agents in her little town. But following an unpleasant incident with her supervisor, Lucy travels to London where she joins Lockwood & Co., an agency run by Anthony Lockwood and his deputy, George Cubbins. Lucy and Lockwood, too impatient to wait for George and his research, make rather a mess of an investigation together, and thus all three employees of Lockwood and Co. are certain that London’s Department of Psychic Research and Control are planning to shut the agency down. But when an unexpected client arrives at their door, George, Lucy, and Lockwood agree to take on the most haunted hall in the country. Lockwood & Co. may finally realize fame, but only if the three agents survive.
The first in a Lockwood & Co. series, The Screaming Staircase will hook readers from the start. Witty and bold, Lucy is more than capable of holding her own beside charismatic Lockwood and ever-sarcastic George. The trio’s dynamic is believable, as is the world of ghosts and relatively no adult supervision in which they live; the three tumble through an action- and suspense-filled plot, pulling readers along with them until the truly creepy end. A smattering of distinctly British phrases and a glossary of ghost types and terminology add to the fun, making The Screaming Staircase a must-read for fans of paranormal fantasy.