02 August 2013
Review: The Screaming Staircase
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
My rating: 0 of 5 stars
It's typically very hard for me to struggle with a middle grade novel, especially one by a well-respected, well-known author. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is a series I'm familiar with and own, but haven't read, and when I saw an opportunity to get in on the ground floor with Jonathan Stroud's new series, I figured I'd jump at it.
The idea of the book itself is very sound: paranormal activity is cropping up throughout London, and only children have the ability to see/sense it. Two kids, Anthony and Lucy, decide to open up a paranormal investigative agency, and fall into a much deeper mystery as a result. It's a fun idea.
The tone of the book itself is very British in nature, and feels a lot like a Lemony Snicket book as well in how the narrative flows. To the book's credit, it doesn't waste time talking down to its audience or mincing words - instead, it's a very straightforward attempt at a paranormal detective title.
The problem with the book, I suppose, might just be that the story has a great setup while lacking that extra something to hold my attention. It's not too kiddish (which can happen with a middle grade title), it's not too advanced, it just feels very rote. I struggled mightily to find some sort of appeal to kids beyond the basic subject matter. Snicket had it in The Series of Unfortunate Events because he kept his tongue firmly in cheek and we were all in on the joke, but this lacks the same impact.
I do hope this book does well and it finds an audience. I would love nothing more than to be completely wrong about this title. Unfortunately, I couldn't get through more than roughly 2/3rds of it before simply feeling like it wasn't worth much more of my time.
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