Worth reading for the last 50 pages alone. Incredible as usual, full of wit, wonder and swords named Pooky Bear. I mean, how could you not love this b...moreWorth reading for the last 50 pages alone. Incredible as usual, full of wit, wonder and swords named Pooky Bear. I mean, how could you not love this book? Full review to come.(less)
The Cold got me in the end! I ended up loving it, especially that ending. I know it's a standalone but I wouldn't mind spending more time in this worl...moreThe Cold got me in the end! I ended up loving it, especially that ending. I know it's a standalone but I wouldn't mind spending more time in this world. Full review to come.(less)
This book made me swoon, laugh, cry and quiver in fear and loathing. Exceptional story and world-building, with characters to love. Full review to com...moreThis book made me swoon, laugh, cry and quiver in fear and loathing. Exceptional story and world-building, with characters to love. Full review to come!(less)
In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shorte...moreOriginally published at Winged Reviews
In trying to articulate my excitement for wonder that is The Screaming Staircase, I was going to write my shortest ever review and leave it at that, because it summarises the book so well: freaking brilliant. (Well, freaky and brilliant, really).
Then I thought it might help to elaborate. My expectations were set extremely high when I first heard about this book at the Random House Children’s Publishers blogger brunch. It ticked all the right boxes for me—great author, alternative London setting, a cavalier hero, smart female narrator. Plus, actually having Jonathan Stroud there demonstrating how to fight ghosts with a rapier, salt, chains and a teapot was pretty perfect.
In this version of England, there is a Problem—ghosts are everywhere and their touch can kill. You can feel them, but you eventually can’t see them. As people grow older, their ability to see ghosts fades away. Enter Lockwood & Co., a small agency founded by teenager Anthony Lockwood to help those with a Visitor problem. Unlike the big corporations with legacy adults running the show, Lockwood & Co. is solely run by our three young protagonists.
Our narrator is Lucy Carlyle, a trainee who possesses superior ghost ‘empathy’. She moved down to London due to an incident where she used to work and after countless applications (at other firms), ends up as the newest employee of Lockwood & Co. As luck would have it, one Lucy and Lockwood’s cases…goes up in smoke, which leads to the little company owing a lot of money and having to risk all by taking on a huge case potentially out of their depths.
This book had some seriously chilling moments. I brought this to read on my honeymoon and every time a wave crashed, I almost threw the book up in the air and hid under the covers. These are not friendly ghosts Lockwood & Co. deal with—they are vengeful, dark spirits that cause extreme terror and harm. When our heroes eventually face the titular screaming staircase, I was truly frightened, not to mention a certain encounter with a floating head (yes, I am a scaredy cat, but just wait until you read it).
That said, the book’s tone is generally light (yes, it’s light and scary, I don’t know how Stroud manages this brilliance). The banter between Lockwood, Lucy and the third member of the trio, the cynical researcher George Cubbins is extremely fun to read, especially as they live together and have to get used to each other’s odd habits. I love the humorous understatements in the face of true danger, something I’ve come to know and love from Stroud’s writing. Of course, there are the required tea and biscuit breaks, which adds to the British charm.
My only gripe about reading this book early is that I now have to wait even longer for the sequel. I excited to see the world-building get even deeper, learn more about Lucy’s abilities and discover the cause of the true mystery behind the Problem. Recommended for absolutely everyone, kids and adults alike will be enthralled by it. (less)
Sadly, I think it lacked a bit of the spark the Hex Hall series had. Izzy didn't have quite the snark and although there was some chemistry, I didn't...moreSadly, I think it lacked a bit of the spark the Hex Hall series had. Izzy didn't have quite the snark and although there was some chemistry, I didn't warm to the supporting characters as much as I would've liked, such as Dex. Would've loved to know more about Finn though, she is the reason I want to keep reading the series. That and maybe a potential cameo from cousin Sophie.(less)
I wanted to love it so much, but I really didn't. Too much going on, when the focus of the story should've been the fascinating world of Lumen. Also,...moreI wanted to love it so much, but I really didn't. Too much going on, when the focus of the story should've been the fascinating world of Lumen. Also, the narration style, third-person limited, is really jarring as it actually makes the book feel more juvenile that it should be given some of the themes it explores.
It just started to get interesting at the end and stopped as well. I'll probably read the next for curiosity's sake.(less)
2.5 stars. A little bit too much insta-love and not enough of the interesting part of the book. Needed more mythology/history and less fatalistic decl...more2.5 stars. A little bit too much insta-love and not enough of the interesting part of the book. Needed more mythology/history and less fatalistic declarations of love. Ended really oddly as well. Not sure about reading the second book at this point, which is a HUGE disappointment as I was really looking forward to this series. Full review to come.(less)
I’ll admit I’m a late adopter. I picked up Beautiful Creatures because of all the hype about the film...more3.5 stars, originally published at Winged Reviews
I’ll admit I’m a late adopter. I picked up Beautiful Creatures because of all the hype about the film and numerous references to it on my Twitter feed. It seemed like not having read it was a big minus to my YA street cred, so I rectified that immediately. That and I hate watching movies before I’ve read the book.
Broadly, I enjoyed it. For anyone who hasn’t yet read it, the story is told from the point of view of Ethan Wade, who has lived in Gatlin, a small town in Southern USA (where everybody knows your name), his entire life. His life gets a shake-up, however, when new girl Lena Duchannes moves into town. She is instantly a pariah because she lives with her uncle Macon Ravenwood, the town recluse, in the creepy Ravenwood manor.
It comes to light after some bizarre dreams, strange telepathy and a shattered classroom window that Lena isn’t a normal girl from a normal family. She’s a Caster, a member of a family who have varying supernatural abilities. Unfortunately in her family, when a Caster turns 16 they get allocated to either the ‘Light’ or the ‘Dark’. So she and Ethan spend the months leading up to her 16th birthday trying to uncover the reasons behind this and what can be done to prevent Lena going to the ‘Dark’ side (insert obvious Star Wars joke here).
I actually liked the way the authors classified the different Casters and found the powers varied and interesting. My favourite part of the book though, was the underlying historical mystery. An enigmatic locket with initials, flashbacks and a sordid American Civil war romance doomed to repeat itself centuries later—I was officially hooked.
As far as the characters go, while I enjoyed Ethan’s point of view as a narrator (a refreshing twist on the standard paranormal formula), I wasn’t wholly invested in Ethan and Lena individually and in their relationship. I felt sympathetic towards them, but at the same time I didn’t really care too much if they managed to stay together or not. I found a lot of the other characters, particularly Ridley’s blend of evil nature and good intentions and Amma’s fierce authority more interesting.
I was also somewhat disappointed by the ending. It was very big in scale, but lost a lot of the heart of the book, the individual struggles each character has as they get caught between the Light and Dark. It also felt a bit like a cop-out, a way to prolong the story of Lena being in between for another year (and another book). In short, it was interesting an enjoyable first book, but I’m not racing to read the next instalment. I will probably go see the film though.(less)
3.5 stars, rounded up for great atmosphere. The book was plodding along as normal, then BAM that sudden reveal and indeed game-changer (story-changer?...more3.5 stars, rounded up for great atmosphere. The book was plodding along as normal, then BAM that sudden reveal and indeed game-changer (story-changer?) happened. Definitely will be a series, and I'm intrigued to know more. Full review to come.(less)