Friday, 4 July 2014

Lockwood and Co. by Johnathon Stroud

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.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

I went into this knowing very little about the book and with no expectations. I don't know whether this changed the way I read it but I definitely loved it! I was a little confused at the beginning but the way he wrote, starting in the middle, then doing an introduction, then back to the middle action was quite clever and pieced together the odd pieces of information nicely. Nothing felt out of place and I never felt like I didn't understand something, everything was explained so neatly. 

Ghost stories do fascinate me but I am a scaredy-cat so don't read them very often. And while this did freak me out on a few occasions, I just loved the story so much I barely noticed. I loved how it focused more on the characters than the story, on Lucy becoming a part of the company as well as all the cases. And boy did I love the cases! The way the ghosts had integrated themselves into modern London was very clever and even though it was obvious that no-one knew why, Stroud at least had half-explanations for most things. There's nothing I hate more than an author being too lazy to fully explain their world and thank God Stroud didn't do that!

Onto the characters. I imagined Lockwood like a young Snape but dorkier, funnier and so much more adorable. I warmed to him almost immediately, with his speak first, think later way of saying ridiculous things, and his passion and stubbornness for his company. The way he completely welcomed Lucy straight away was really sweet and says a lot about Lockwood's heart and trust. Speaking of Lucy, I loved her instantly. She didn't put up with Lockwood's or George's nonsense, she held her own against Lockwood's daft nature, and she was very good with most ghostly matters. She was particularly sensitive which did mean she got into trouble quite easily but her heart was in the right place. 

The big case of the story, the haunted house with the Screaming Staircase and the Red Room was pretty terrifying. Not only was there so many damn deaths around the house but the owner refused to let them prepare properly, which obviously made me very suspicious. Luckily, Lockwood looks out for his team and after a very tense moment where I was sure they had all died, justice was served. Honestly, I don't think I could commend this book enough, I loved everything about it, even its length, because no space was wasted and every page held more ghostly revelations and witty one-liners. For fans of ghost stories or first-timers, this is a great example of the genre and comes highly recommended from this blogger. Bring on the sequel! 

Published 29th August 2013 by Doubleday. 

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