The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
I have three disclaimers for this one.
Disclaimer one: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book that I snagged at the ALA conference, so some of the content that I read might differ very minutely from the released copy. The book will be released on September 17, 2013 (sucks to wait that long, there there).
Disclaimer two: A LONG LONG time ago, I once tried to read the Bartimaeus trilogy when it first came out, but then I had that one REALLY OBSESSIVE FRIEND who made it out to be the best thing ever and got so hyped up about it that when I attempted to read it, I was disappointed. Again, too much hype. One day, I hope to return to the trilogy since after reading this, the writing style of the author seems like one I'd enjoy.
Disclaimer three after the summary as it pertains the books content.
An amazon summary, "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?
Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series." AMAZON LINK OF NOOOO, REVEALED WAY TOO MUCH
Disclaimer three: For some reason I went into reading this book with the expectation that it was going to be full of humor and what not. There are humorous moments, but I wouldn't call it a humorous book overall. There are some very serious concept being portrayed, like children DYING, that simply cannot be made light of. However, even though that expectation quickly dissolved, I did quite enjoy the book. It wasn't a laugh a page or something though. LESS HUMOR THAN EXPECTED, I AM DONE WITH THIS DISCLAIMER.
Anyways, so the Amazon summary really crapped all over the book. The screaming staircase isn't even brought up until page 222 (my copy has 363 pages for the record). Seriously Amazon summary? You suck.
Don't worry though, there are certainly many creepy bits to keep you trembling slightly in your seat until you hit the screaming staircase.
In the mean time, let me tell you about the first thirty percent of the book which the summary ruefully skipped over. I'm only going to do up until chapter 8, which is page 101 in my book. For those playing along with the math, I know a true thirty percent is at roughly page 110, but that's the middle of chapter 8. So no.
Alright, the premise in which this world works. There are 'visitors' (GHOSTS) that show up as night falls depending on where their deaths happen. There's still a lot that is not known about the phenomenon but people can easily be killed if a ghost touches them. So it's pretty terrifying. There are three types of ghosts; type ones are kind of harmless, type twos can do some physical manipulations depending on what they are, and type three is a huge unknown whirlpool of questions. Children have various degrees of sensitivity to ghosts. Some can see them very well, some can hear them very well, some of them can see their death glow (a spot where someone died), while others can only vaguely sense something nearby or see a blurry shape. Sometimes children don't have senses at all. However, there seems to be a common theme that adults cannot do anything with visitors besides put iron in everything (it repels ghosts).
The children are a driving force in getting rid of ghosts and they usually belong to companies that also employ adults to go with them (usually ex-ghost hunters) as supervisors that direct the missions. By belong, I mean employment, they get paid (NOT SLAVERY).
So that's kind of what's happening in the world. There are neat little gadgets that pop up that show how they're making progress in fighting off the ghosts or what sort of protection people have employed. It's all neat and you'll find out when you read the book.
The book begins with Lockwood and Lucy going out on an assignment to investigate the potentially lingering spirit of a woman's late husband (he died by falling the stairs). It's quite a thrilling scene that gets cut off so we're flung into Lucy's back story. We find out about what drove her out of her quaint town and into an interview at Lockwood & Company. ...that really summarizes everything up to page 101 without revealing hardly anything.
I am pleased with myself.
And most likely enraging you.
Alright, so this is what you should know.
Lucy is a great character to like as she's courageous, a little timid as far as trusting her instincts, and doesn't really put up with the non-sense that both Lockwood and George (the only other member of Lockwood & Co so far) dole out in great measures.
The characters of Lockwood and George have their merits and their secrets; I'm curious as to what we'll find out with in the next book.
The only thing that I could say was slightly disappointing was that in the end (THIS IS A KIND OF SPOILER ALERT, ALL THE VAGUENESS FROM ME), there was a 'warnings' of great evil to come or some mumbo jumbo. Whatever. I understand it's a nice thing to be like EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO GO CRAZIER IN THE NEXT BOOK, WHOOO, STAY TUNED FOR ACTION. But really? I like the characters a lot so I'd be okay with just character growth stories (and finding out Lockwood's and George's secrets (which were slightly alluded to but not really delved into because they may or may not have secrets (I'm still hoping they have secrets))).
This is a series that I'll be looking for a sequel to. I don't know if it's a series, or a trilogy, dualogy, or whatever; but I do know that there SHOULD be a sequel given with how it has ended.