I love reading young adult novels. When I started my Read 100 Challenge, I knew that around half of the books that I read would fit into the young adult category. My reasons are twofold: First, as a middle school teacher, I want to be able to make book recommendations to my students of books that they will truly connect with. I feel it is my responsibility to keep on top of the young adult literature world. Second, young adult literature can just be plain fun. Some of the best stories being told out there right now are by YA authors.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud proves both of those points. It is a book that I have and will recommend over and over to students. Plus, it was a treat to read myself.
The Screaming Staircase is the first in the Lockwood & Co series. In the London of the novels, Lockwood, Lucy, and George are young ghost hunters out to help adults get rid of the ghosts haunting their houses. Since The Problem began, ghosts have been creating a lot of havoc all over England–they can kill the living and scare the pants off just about anyone. Only children can see them, however. As a result, many ghost hunting businesses have emerged to try to stop the effects of The Problem by hiring young operatives. Lockwood & Co is the only business entirely run by children.
Lockwood, Lucy, and George take on a case that will lead them all over the country, cause them to investigate a decades-old murder, and land them in one of the most haunted houses in all of England.
The Screaming Staircase is exceptionally well-written, with characters that will have both children adults laughing. I literally could not put it down and finished it in one night (which meant I was quite bleary-eyed the next morning when I raved about the book to my seventh graders!).
Because of its content, I suggest this book for children in grades 6 and up. It is truly scary–I didn’t want to get out of bed to turn the lights out! There are many brushes with death (quite literally) that may scare younger readers or those who are sensitive to horror stories. The book is surprisingly clean, however, with no worrying language or sexual situations.
I have been recommending this entire series to my students who loved the Harry Potter series, devoured the Percy Jackson series, and are ready to enter into another world where the magic is convincingly real and the adventure is thrilling.
The Screaming Staircase is by far my favorite young adult book this year (and I’ve read 17 great ones in the past three months!). Add it to your list, too!
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What books have you read recently?