Review: Lockwood & Co. 1: The Screaming Staircase

Lockwood 1By Jonathan Stroud

Random House, out now

Modern-day London: the spirits of the dead walk the streets at night to haunt the living. It all began 50 years ago; no one knows why or how it suddenly started, but it’s a majorly disturbing problem. Being touched by these ghosts (categorised as Type One, Type Two or Type Three) leads to a terrifying, painful death. As a result, no one walks the streets at night. Except for the agents…

This series follows one such psychic investigation agency called Lockwood & Co. As with all agencies, its agents are children, as they are the only ones with psychic Talents (the abilities to see ghosts, hear them or to detect psychic residue by Touch). Lockwood & Co. has only three agents, but they’re obviously the best in the business: Anthony Lockwood, the tall, dark and secretive head of the agency; George Cubbins his smart and sarcastic faithful friend; and their newest recruit, brave and resourceful Lucy Carlyle.

In The Screaming Staircase, Lockwood and Lucy narrowly escape from a burning house haunted by a very vengeful ghost. While they were trying to get rid of her, a magnesium flare (used to destroy ghosts and the Source tying them to this world) accidentally ignites the building, leaving Lockwood & Co. with a £60,000 debt to the homeowner. The only good news is that they have a beautiful, jewelled pendant that Lucy saves from the inferno with unforeseen consequences. And then an unexpected client gives them a job that will solve all their problems, one way or another…

This is a really good book. The writing is superb; although it’s told from Lucy’s point of view, having the occasional newspaper article is a good way of keeping the story interesting. The characters are very entertaining – Lockwood, for example, is very mysterious. He never says anything about his past, which gives you so many questions and makes you want to find out more. The modern-day London plagued with ghosts and spirits is described in flawless detail, and the description of the ghosts and their effect on humans is so vivid and so frightening that it could almost be real. I found it fascinating because it doesn’t just show you all the fear, it shows the ways people are fighting back, and it’s inspiring because, despite all that is happening, people haven’t given up hope.

Verdict: Exciting, fast-paced and terrifying, this is definitely one of my favourite books. 9/10

Sophie Simpson

Click here to order Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase from


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