I came across The Screaming Staircase at the book fair, near a staircase which was screaming. Heheheheheh.Okay on to the recommendation now.
The Screaming Staircase has been one of the most enjoyable reads of this year. Beating out the likes of Alice Sebold, Eva Ibbotson, Charles Duhigg, Harlan Coben and many more. It’s not that The Screaming Staircase has a prose as powerful as A Thousand Splendid Suns or Sleeping on Jupiter, or philosophy as deep as Paulo Coelho, or insanely amazing and powerful dialogues. It’s, just a book I took up, and then proceeded to ignore the world for hours till I finished it. I had so much fun reading this book. I literally did not put this down. I went past my own bed time just to read another chapter. A book may not be very good objectively, in terms of its plot or characters or whatever, but if a book pushes you to such things, it’s a good book for you.
Just because I’ve said The Screaming Staircase doesn’t have the best prose or plot or dialogues that powerful, doesn’t mean they are no good.
The first winning point is the concept of The Screaming Staircase. In the world of The Screaming Staircase, in England, a new problem has emerged. There are ghosts that are there in the world. All the little creaking you heard at night, all the weird sightings at night. You guessed it. Ghosts. Ghosts have emerged in this part of the world and it’s up to specialised teams, made of children (because they can sense ghosts very well. And not five year old. But more of ten and eleven and early teenagers if I remember correctly.).
At the top of the book, you will see Lockwood and Co. written very magnificently. Lockwood and Co. is one of the various ghost hunting agencies in the world. It has the narrator Lucy, George, another member and the leader, Anthony Lockwood.
Another winning point about this book is the chemistry of these three together. George is the well, nerd of the group. He likes to study all cases (as in, cases of catching the ghost), read deep into the history of the case and the place (the location of the ghost haunting) and be prepared for anything. Lucy is the newbie. She doesn’t read all that much and is more hands on. Anthony Lockwood, better known as just Lockwood, is the charismatic leader of the group. He is smart, hands on, knows how to play people and get his way and always steps up to a challenge.
The three of them mesh together and form a team you root for the whole time. All three characters feel like real life persons as well, with their back stories fleshed out and their reactions being what we would most probably do in such a scenario.
Another winning point of the book is the world. Jonathan Stroud builds up a world from scratch. He details every little aspect. The types of ghosts. How the problem started. The counter measures taken by the government. The agencies and their history. Such as Lockwood and Co. and the various other agencies in existence for a long time. The weapons used against the ghosts. The tactics used at the place of the haunting. The origin of the haunting. Every little thing you could think of is there. Jonathan Stroud left no detail when describing the world.
There is however one gripe I had with the book. Like we all know, every thriller or book of this sort (I can’t put a finger on the genre), there is a mystery and then a huge climax. Sadly, the climax and the huge mystery deals with humans, rather than ghosts. There was a big battle, yes, but the main mystery was with humans. It’s tough to articulate it. But if your premise is a ghost world, then your huge issue should be related to ghosts, not an accident and a cover up by humans. That was a gripe for me.
Now, onto more winning points. Another winning point is the ease with which it is read. Like I said above, it is a book I could not put down. There aren’t any complicated plot twists or any tough words. It is a breeze to read through and a joy. It’s a simple book.
The Screaming Staircase is a book I would tell everyone to read. It’s just a simple, fun book that you’ll love from the moment go.
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Published by Shrey Ahuja