Review of AUDIOBOOK The Screaming Staircase – Book 1 of the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud #Brainfluffaudiobookreview #TheScreamingStaircaseaudiobookreview


This is a series I’d downloaded for my granddaughter, which had thoroughly gripped her – and after starting the story, I could see why…

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in…. For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

This is set in an alternate reality where fifty years ago, ghosts of people who had died in difficult circumstances are now feral. Mostly, they are annoying, manifesting as cold spots, bright lights and leaving uneasy feelings in their wake. But some of the stronger types are able to kill with a touch – and it’s only some ‘gifted’ children who can actually see or sense them clearly. This premise is a brilliant one, producing this dark, clever and often funny ghost story brilliantly narrated by Miranda Raison, who vividly portrays Lucy’s first person narration.

I had previously read and enjoyed Stroud’s wonderful Bartimaeus Trilogy – see my review of The Amulet of Samarkand – featuring an emotionally abused young warlock and a trapped djinni, whose withering and very funny commentary on human behaviour gives this book welcome shafts of humour. Lucy’s sharp-edged observations about her mysterious and brilliant young employer, Anthony Lockwood and his equally brilliant sidekick, George, often had me sniggering aloud as I listened to this one.

But that didn’t stop it being really creepy and utterly gripping when the trio were locked into a lethally haunted house – and very glad that I was listening to this one during the mornings when houseworking. There is the depth of characterisation I have grown to expect from Stroud, along with an exciting and well-paced adventure. The fact that I had already figured out who was doing what to whom before the denouement really didn’t matter – because the mystery was far more about how the heck they were going to survive the experience, anyway.

I’m thrilled to report that I already have the second book in this adventure ready and waiting to be heard – yippee! Far better for my blood pressure and mental health than listening to the catastrophic struggles in Parliament over Brexit…

25 responses »

  1. Do you know I’ve never read Jonathan Stroud before? Hard to believe…this does sound chilling, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sarah😁

    • The first book was published in 2013, but I think it then was released over the next several years – I believe the last one came out either early last year or late 2017… Well worth reading!

  2. The title alone is an intriguing one – a screaming staircase makes me think immediately of a haunted house – and the core concept of the ghosts is one that I find appealing, And here comes another addition to the ever-growing “wanted” list… 😀
    Thanks for sharing!

      • Oh, that makes sense. I’m just a sucker for the occasional radio theater. It takes quite a unique creativity to find the practical objects to make the sound effects that create the desired imagery in the listener’s imaginations…

      • Yes – you’ve got to remember than I’m Old School – I’ve only just started my foray into the world of audiobooks:))

      • Bo loves them! I think it’s the mom in me, who can get the kids to listen to read-along books when there’s some extra stuff going on besides the narrative. 🙂

      • And that’s the context, isn’t it? This one would be a bit much for Blondie – she’s a bit young to cope with Stroud’s writing, even if she’s a precocious reader.

  3. This looks like a really good series. Is it YA? I think I might have to see if it is on KU. I am always looking for a good audiobook. Nice review Sarah.

    • Thank you, Carla – I think it is regarded as a children’s book, although I was a bit shaken at just how creepy it got… and recalled my granddaughter finding it a scary read to listen to at bedtime. No wonder!

  4. This sounds lovely, but unfortunately, I’m not the target. Some years ago, I tried Amulet of Samarkand and just couldn’t get into the style aimed at children. Which is, I guess, a pity, especially that I enjoy going back to some books I’ve read as a child.

    • The Amulet of Smarkand is something of an acquired taste, given the number of footnotes… This one has quite a different feel – if you can get hold of the first one, it’s worth a try, because the narrative arc throughout the series is extremely well done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.