Audiobook Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Narrator: Miranda Raison
Length: 10 hrs, 10 mins
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Published by Random House Audio on September 17, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business. 
In "The Screaming Staircase," the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

Listeners who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally bestselling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

I am laughing at my predictions that I wouldn’t read much middle grade this year. Last year, a lot of it disappointed me, and certainly a lot of middle grade books are not Christina books. So far, though, I’ve been reading really great middle grade in 2015. The Screaming Staircase may just be my favorite one of late. I wasn’t expecting such fantastic world building, lively characters, and twisty mystery, but that’s what I got. The buzz on this one was not wrong.

Seriously, I’m just so in love with this world building. It’s set in a variant London, one where ghosts have afflicted the country for fifty years. Yeah, ghosts don’t sound so bad, right? I mean, they’re creepy, but what’s a cold spot or two? These ghosts, though, can really mess you up. In fact, if a ghost touches you, it can kill you, if not treated quickly enough. The threat is real. That’s why Psychic Investigations Agencies have been created: to battle the spirits. Adults generally cannot see ghosts, so children tend to do most of the hard work. YES, THIS IS MIDDLE GRADE BRITISH GHOSTBUSTERS.

The ghosts get surprisingly intense. I wasn’t expecting too much outright horror from a middle grade, but there’s this one apparition that I will not so easily forget. I wouldn’t say I was scared precisely, but, if it had been a movie, I would have been TERRIFIED. Everything about the varieties of ghosts and what they can do is such a far cry from anything ghosty I’ve read before. I love it so much.

Lucy Carlyle, sick of working for the jerk who ran the rural agency she worked for, travels to London to search for new employment. After being rejected by agency after agency, she finally goes to the smallest one: Lockwood and Co. This agency doesn’t have an adult supervisor, as is the standard. Unlike the rest, Lockwood’s impressed with Lucy’s talents and hires her right off. She makes the third employee, along with dashing, daring Lockwood and prickly, bookish George.

I came to care for all three of them, and I’m actually having trouble deciding which middle grade ship I want to sale on. Sure, Lockwood’s more attractive and has a delightful amount of swagger, but George and Lucy have an annoyed banter that’s also really tempting. Since I could go with either, I’ll get to sit back and watch the chaste middle grade romance that is hopefully eventually coming play out without fear that I’ll hate the ship.

Oh right, that’s not important at all (because seriously there has been zero romance but this is what my brain does). What IS important is that the three make an excellent ghost-fighting team. Lockwood supplies the bravado and determination. He has a real passion for ghost fighting, and he’s the one who made the only child-run business for a reason. George is the brains of the operation. He researches cases and handles infrastructure duties. Lucy supplies the heart. More than the other two, she can connect with ghosts and figure out which ones are dangerous and which might not be.

The Screaming Staircase might seem, at times, to be a bit scattered. It opens, for example, on the kids messing up a case, and then flashes back for quite a while to Lucy’s past leading up to her time at Lockwood. Obviously, starting with a hook is good, but that could be hard for some readers. Then, when the ball really starts rolling on the mystery that started it all, the kids take a different case. I thought these things were strange, but I rolled with it, and, as hoped, everything tied together beautifully in the end.

Miranda Raison’s narration only made the audiobook that much better. She reads with excellent emotion, and her voices for the characters were good, rather than distracting. I flew through the audiobook, finishing it hours before I meant to, because I didn’t want to stop, which is a sign of a high quality audiobook.

Whether you’re typically a middle grade reader or not, if you enjoy rag tag teams, ghosts, or intricate paranormal settings, I highly urge you to try The Screaming Staircase. I really want to start on The Whispering Skull straight away, but, since there’s a narrator change, I think I’ll swap to something else before starting that one in an attempt to make the switch less jarring.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif ghostbusters
Like this, only younger and make one female.

3 responses to “Audiobook Review: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud”

  1. Your review made me just immediately find out if my library has the audio version! I’m on the wait-list, but I can’t wait until I get to listen to it. Great review!

  2. […] of Fictions reviews The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, narrated by Miranda […]

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