Sunday, 20 April 2014

Kim's Review : The Screaming Staircase

Recently won an online contest and Random House sent me an autographed copy of "The Screaming Staircase". Its another one in the Young Adult fantasy genre and I think I should get back to some serious reading after this :)

The fantasy in this series is based on ghosts for a change (not vampires or witches) and its kids who are most perceptive of ghostly presence, hence they are the main characters in the book.

A J Lockwood & Co. Investigators is one of the newer agencies that investigates psychic phenomenon. What makes them unique is that the organisation is run by kids themselves (without adult supervision) At the start of this book, the team comprises of Anthony J Lockwood, George the researcher and Lucy Carlyle the new joinee.

While George is of the "research is the best aid to handling hauntings" school of thought, both Lucy and Anthony believe in action, with Lockwood being the more charismatic yet impulsive of the two.

Many children (not all) are born with the ability to see, hear or otherwise detect ghosts. These skills, called Talents tend to fade towards adulthood. Children with better than average talents join the Night Watch and those with exceptional abilities usually join one of the Agencies (with some agencies being successful and famous and others at the other end of the spectrum) The 3 main categories of Talent are Sight, Listening and Touch.

Anthony has a special talent of Sight, being able to detect even the tiniest of visible ghostly traces. Lucy has a special talent of Listening and maybe something more. She develops strong feelings and seems to be able to empathise with the spirits.

Not all spirits are equal, some are harmless and some can cause death by Ghost touch. Since the "Problem" most of England (yes, this is another Fantasy series set in England) has had an exacerbated problem with ghosts and hence curfews are in place to get people home before ghostly activity strengthens and the city has departments to deal with this phenomena.

Lockwood and Co, due to a series of mishaps and accidents is on the brink of bankruptcy, to save the company, Anthony Lockwood takes on a job which requires them to spend a night in the most haunted house in England.

The story ties up neatly in itself, but ends with a lot of unanswered questions about the lead characters, so you know that there are definitely going to be a couple of more books in this series.

Jonathan Stroud grips your imagination hard and takes you hurtling down this new world that he has created for this series. Jonathan Stroud as you may recall, is the author of the best-selling BARTIMAEUS sequence (Amulet of Samarkand, Golems Eye, Ptolemy's Gate and Ring of Solomon), which is published in 35 languages and has sold 6 million copies worldwide.

Its a well written book and kids who like being slightly scared, would love it. I wouldn't recommend it to kids who are easily spooked though, it could give them sleepless nights.

Rating : 4 / 5

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