The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 3.5/5
Protagonist: Lucy Carlyle
Other Characters: George Cubbins, Anthony Lockwood, Annie Ward, Sir John Fairfax

Synopsis: In London, where its citizens equals its paranormal activities, many companies opened their doors to help silence the dead. Anthony Lockwood, along side his friend, George Cubbins, is one of the agencies that was established in order to meed the needs of the people. Newcomer Lucy Carlyle, helps the two investigate and rest the restless spirits. Unfortunately for them, their reputation and size, leaves them with the smaller and less desirable cases. As an unplanned incident occurs during one of their investigations, they must now embark on a dangerous case were previous agencies has failed. Will they be able to free the house of its ghosts and create a name for themselves or will they be the next victim of the deadly house.

Review:This was a “hidden gem” monthly group read winner in one of my Goodreads group for the month of August. I’m so glad that one of the members decided to share such an awesome read because I highly enjoyed it. I listened to this in audio so my audiobook review will be before the spoiler section. As for the actual review itself, this is a MUST for those who enjoys ghosts stories. There were times in the book where I was scared out of mind and listening to it at night, didn’t help my situation. Stroud did such a good job portraying his characters and creating vivid details of his settings. I will definitely check out the other books in this series.

There were many things that I like about this book. The characters themselves are very well done, but its mainly the way Stroud writes his scenes. Its very detailed and it allows you to envision the protagonists surroundings. I especially love his description of Annie Ward, one of the spirits haunting an old house, it not only gave me goosebumps, but it also left me sleepless for that night. I always have a hard time finding YA books that fits this category, where its for younger readers, but at the same time it still sends chills down your spine, so I’m really glad for Stroud not sugar coating his book. This was also a great break from any romantic pairings. I tried to see if any relationship will form, but the main focus was the investigation and I was ok with that. Something different in the YA genre.

As for the characters, personally, I didn’t really connect with Lucy. I don’t hate her, but I did find her idiotic at times. I understand her ‘mistakes’ was essential in solving the case, but what if her actions led to a more sinister outcome. I admit, she’s brave, in a dumb way, and she’s just as kick-ass as many of my favourite female protagonists, but her lack of critical thinking was aggravating. That being said, I did enjoy her banters with George. It was a burst of laughter during times of great stress for them. We don’t really see more of him until the end, but we do learn that he is the brain in the group and was a previous employer of a rival company. Now, my favourite out of the three is Anthony Lockwood. He almost gives me a Sherlock Holmes vibes, with his quick thinking and attention to details. He’s young, just like the other two, but he seems to hold the group together. His quick thinking allows dire situations to be handled efficiently. Even if we do get a glimpse of Lockwoods personality, there really isn’t much that was discussed about him. His past is a mystery and it seems like it will remain a mystery until the next book.

Even with the slow start of the book, I’m glad that it eventually did pick up. I understand that the first half was filled with important information regarding this very different, paranormal filled London, and the history of our narrator. It was also important to introduce the group and the problem that they were facing. So the slow beginning wasn’t a problem for me. I did have a problem with then ending though. As much as I like the whole case finished and wrapped up nicely, their was a tidbit in the end that made it a slight ‘cliffhanger’. Usually, I don’t get all hyped up by cliffhangers, but the way Stroud did it makes you want to pick up the next book ASAP. That being said, there really isn’t much that I have to complain about with this book. There’s action, there’s mystery and laughter, a great cast and everything else I enjoy in a book. So I totally recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading the paranormal.

Audiobook Review: I love the audio. The voice of the narrator is spot on and the voices that she use for the other characters are all very well done. I especially love how she narrates the scary parts of the book. Those parts always gave me the chills and it was wonderful! If you get the chance to listen to this on audio, then take the chance.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

If you do not want the ending to be revealed, please do not read any further.

The first half of the book was a mystery including a girl, Annie Ward, that died in a horrendous way, therefore, she tends to attack violently. Being dormant for a few years no one knew she existed until a family moved in and disturbed her slumber. As Lucy and Lockwood exterminate Annie, the former attains the locket she is wearing and accidentally burns the house to the ground. As punishment, they must pay a fine they could not afford. At the same time, Lucy starts getting haunting from the same girl. Realizing that her spirit is still restless, the group investigate further to uncover the mystery that surrounds her death. Unfortunate for them, the looming threat of the fine forces them to take on a dangerous tasks, that previous agencies has failed. A wealthy man, Sir Fairfax, hires them to investigate and exterminate the spirits in his home, Combe Carey Hall, with the Red Room and the Screaming staircase.

As they investigate the house. The group finds out that a group of monks were savagely murdered in Combe Carey Hall, and it is their spirits that is haunting and killing the ‘intruders’. The Screaming Staircase, was where the monks were lead to be executed and you can hear their screams and moans as the ghosts replay the murderous event. As for the Red Room, blood covers the walls, and it is were the murders took place. Now the actual mystery is not this investigation. We learn earlier on that these are the disturbed spirits that the groups needs to silence. The actual mystery is John Fairfox. As he hires the team of Lockwood & Co. he sets restrictions on them that will be difficult for them to survive the investigation. It is revealed in the end that Fairfax and Annie Ward was a couple when they were younger. The Locket is a significant evidence that will incriminate him to the murder. As a way to preserve his innocence, he hires the team, that found the locket, to his home knowing that the team will be killed by the violent monks. As Fairfax tries to handle the locket, he is viciously attacked by the ghost of Annie who is seeking her revenge.

The ending we see the three celebrating their success. As Lucy tries to get more drinks in the basement, she accidentally uncovers the ghost in the jar, where he tries to communicate with her. Telling her that there is a bigger and more sinister spirit that she and her comrades will have to face.

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One thought on “The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Books that will Leave you Wide Awake | Book Sophisticate

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