Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Lockwood The Screaming Staircase
by Jonathan Stroud
Random House

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Rapier-wielding teenage ghostbusters! Isn’t that enough? I suppose you’re going to want a proper review.

Firstly, Stroud comes up with an elegant excuse for teenagers being the protagonists of a mystery thriller, and getting themselves into life-threatening situations. They’re young enough to see, hear and otherwise sense the presence of ‘Visitors’ otherwise known as ghosts, and old enough to be able do something about it. Such as find the source, the object or location through which the ghost enters the world and neutralise it.

Secondly, he can write exciting, funny, scary and evocative prose; the sort that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. It’s a tad formal, almost Victorian in tone, which had me confused as to when the novel was meant to be set. I was also left wondering just how old the personnel of Lockwood & Co. actually are, which may be a deliberate ploy on the part of the author, in order to broaden his potential audience.

Certainly I’d be happy to give this book to any child from about twelve years of age who was looking for a good scary ghost story, but have caution with younger ones or sensitive children, you might well give them nightmares. Oh, and it’s a fun read for adults, too.

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