Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You'll scream too

As a kid I loved ghostly mysteries.  My favorite series was Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators which featured three boys – Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews – who formed their own detective service and solved mysteries in Southern California.  They'd go into haunted buildings and face scary situations but the ghosts were never real in the end.  But it was great fun and I still enjoy the books (although now I don't have kids young enough to read them with).  But I just found a new series that reminded me a little of those books, except in this one the ghosts are not only real but they're a "Problem."

The Problem began about 50 years ago when ghosts and hauntings became much more prevalent and dangerous.  For the most part only kids can see them so agencies employing the young have sprung up to deal with hauntings.  Lockwood & Co. is different because there are no adult supervisors – just Anthony Lockwood and George Cubbins.  Except for burning down a client's house, they're fairly good at what they do.  Lucy Carlysle, the newest member, can't see the ghosts as well as the others but she can hear and feel them much better.  But when they're called on to deal with a "cluster" of very dangerous ghosts at Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England, they just might be in over their heads.

Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud  is a well-written book and Stroud has a great way with words.  (I loved this quote about George when Lucy first meets him: “His face was uniquely slapable – a nun would have ached to punch him – while his backside cried out to heaven for a well-placed kick.”)  The characters are interesting, the story is compelling, and the suspense is palpable.  It's a bit intense toward the end and I found myself unable to put it down (reading more than half of it at once), but I think it's appropriate for middle-school kids and up.  I'm not usually one to guess an ending ahead of time but I thought it was a bit predictable.  Nevetheless, I'm enthusiastically recommending it and already looking forward to reading the second in the series when it comes out.  (I received this book from Amazon Vine.)

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