Author: Jonathan Stroud

Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud

October 5, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2017, YA 6 Comments

Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan StroudThe Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #5
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 12th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Ghosties
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

five-stars

After the dramatic events of The Creeping Shadow, the Lockwood team (plus Quill Kipps) deserve some well-earned rest.

So naturally they break into the Fittes Mausoleum, on a perilous mission to discover the truth about London's top ghost-hunting agency, and its sinister leader.

What they discover will change everything.

But there's little time to ponder. A near-miss at a haunted fairground is only the start - as the Fittes agency closes in on the team, an epic struggle commences.

With the help of some unexpected, and rather ghostly, allies, Lockwood & Co must battle their greatest enemy yet, as they move ever closer to the moment when the earth-shattering secret of 'the problem' will finally be revealed.

Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. The revelations will send readers back to Book 1 to start the series all over again.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]

“It was a time of beginnings, and a time of endings.”

After the events of The Creeping Shadow, the group set off to prove the Skull’s story right: that Marissa Fitts hasn’t actually been laid to rest and she’s been posing as her granddaughter Penelope for years. As the title implies, they do indeed find an empty grave. How Marissa could possibly remain alive and looking as young as she does remains a mystery. The mystery of the empty grave isn’t the only thing occupying their time though. They’re battling the Fitts agency to remain in business when Marissa announces that all small agencies will be absorbed into one and they must also deal with a fairground haunted by La Belle Dame Sans Merci (The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy) who psychically enchain her victims after alluring them with her beauty. Never a dull moment with Lockwood & Co.

“We’ve worked wonders to get here, and we won’t panic now. If we’re right, there won’t be anything to worry about. If we’re wrong, we deal with it, as we always do. […] But we won’t be wrong. We’re on the verge of something big here. It’s going to be good!”

Kipps adjusted his goggles dolefully. “Since when has anything good happened in a crypt? It’s going to be bad by definition.”

It seems rare that a series possesses such a fantastic story in addition to a brilliant cast of characters. It always makes me cringe when books are constantly being compared to Harry Potter, but the friendship dynamic in Lockwood & Co. is certainly comparable. Of course, it also has that Ghostbusters/X-Files angle that sets it apart. Lockwood himself is quite the complex character with a growing death wish that comes to a peak in this final story. His dark backstory gets dealt out in small servings involving a sister that was ghost-touched at a young age and parents that both died under mysterious circumstances. We see all this through the eyes of Lucy and while the two have been developing an almost reluctant romance since the start of the series, it deserves mention that it never overwhelms the story itself or any of the supporting characters. I originally picked this series up because of my love for a good ghost story and while I’m not often scared by them these days, Stroud still manages to include lines that’ll leave tingles down your spine.

“Her jagged mouth opened in welcome; she was like a deep-sea fish swallowing her prey. As she hugged him close, blue veins of ice ran swiftly down his skin. [Name omitted] limbs jerked and thrashed; he tried to speak, but could only make a gargling sound as he was drawn back into the dark.”

Being that this is the series finale, there’s always the issue with wrapping up all loose ends. What happened to Lockwood’s parents? What caused the rampant increase in hauntings in recent years? How has Marissa Fitts managed to retain her youth for so long? Who is the skull in the jar and what will become of him? And of course, what will become of Lockwood & Co.? I’m notoriously displeased with the majority of series endings but I’m so relieved that this wasn’t the case with The Empty Grave since I’ve been a diehard fan from the very beginning. It retained the perfect balance of creepy and humor (with help in that department from Skull) and resolved unanswered questions without giving it that “and they all lived happily ever after” type of ending that I so dislike. I started Ominous October back in 2014 and The Screaming Staircase was one of the first books I posted about. It’s always heartbreaking to see an amazing story come to an end but I was so pleased to see these fantastic characters get the story they deserve. Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and even Kipps… but I’ll still miss Skull the most.

“These spirits are a bit showy,” the skull said. “All that hooting and cackling. You don’t see me doing that. I ask you, where’s the class?”

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Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

October 28, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2016, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October + #Giveaway! The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan StroudThe Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co., #4
on September 13th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

four-stars

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them--and only them--to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase//Review/

grey-review

After an ominous glimpse at the future, Lucy decided it was best to part ways with Lockwood & Co. She transformed herself practically overnight into a successful freelance agent (with the help of the talking skull in a jar that she carries around with her) that have many vying for her services. When a knock on her door early one morning brings Lockwood back into her life, requesting her services in a most important job, she struggles to decide which is the right path for her.  Lucy begins to realize though that the premonition she foresaw for Lockwood just might happen with or without her presence. The jobs the group takes on though continue to increase in the risk involved and Lucy realizes she’d be hard-pressed to say no to the opportunity to work alongside him and the group once again.

‘It was a bit annoying not being able to sleep, but it was a change being kept up by moral conundrums rather than Wraiths and Specters. Doubts, like ghosts, gain strength in darkness; even with the dawn I wasn’t sure I’d done the right thing.’

While Lucy’s apprehension about re-joining the group, albeit temporarily, was understandable, I sure did love to see the gang all back together. Lucy, Lockwood, and George always had a fantastic team dynamic and the addition of Holly in The Hollow Boy did cause things to go somewhat askew but fortunately that wasn’t for good. Holly has become a full-fledged, active member of the team, her and Lucy have repaired their personal rift, and she even briefly shows a bit of her badass side much to my satisfaction. Skull still manages to keep his spot secured as my favorite character of the bunch though, despite his partial absence in this tale. His snarky commentary is so very comical.

You’ve got a good thing going here,” the skull said. “It’s called independence. Don’t throw it away. And, speaking of throwing things away – your dress. Too tight.
“You think so? It looks all right to me.”
You’re only looking at the front, love.
An altercation ensued here.

What with Skull’s partial absence, George stepped in as a suitable replacement for the time being.

“George.”
“What?”
“We’ve got to destroy the circle. That monster flare of yours. Now might be just the time for it.”
“What? Big Brenda?”
“You’ve given it a name?”
“I’ve grown kind of attached to her.”

When the group begins investigating why someone could be stealing powerful sources, this leads them to convoluted conspiracies, ghostly experiments, and all sorts of danger. Stroud still manages to deliver on the creepy too. Extremely unnerving lines that’ll make your eyes widen from unseen horrors. I loved seeing Lucy operating successfully solo but it was such a joy to see her back with the team again. Stroud leaves us with yet another stunner of a cliffhanger that will leave fans of this series both anxious and nervous for future dangers in store for the team.

‘There are many new questions to answer, and our investigations have only just begun.’

style-3-giveaway

Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Disney-Hyperion, I have a most excellent prize pack to giveaway! One winner will receive the Lockwood & Co. series. (all 4 books!) and a pumpkin-carving kit to get into the Halloween spirit!

Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter!

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on November 11th, 2016.

prizepack

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud

May 18, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 2 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan StroudThe Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #4
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 13th 2016
Pages: 464
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them--and only them--to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

It’s rare that I’m able to keep up with series releases these days but these books are so damn good that I’m willing to drop everything when a new one comes out. The summary kills me though. ANOTHER cliffhanger?! Stroud, come on man. You’re killing me.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Ominous October – The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud

October 29, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2015, YA 5 Comments

Ominous October – The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan StroudThe Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #3
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 15th 2015
Pages: 385
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Creeping Shadow

four-stars

As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.'s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?

Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [PurchaseReview]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase Review]


The trio are at the top of their game and their camaraderie has never been better, so it comes as quite a disappointment when Lucy arrives home one day to find the boys have added a new member to the team: Holly Munro. On top of dealing with the new member of the team, Lucy is struggling to come to terms with her developing powers of being able to communicate with spirits and is torn between the desire to investigate them more and in keeping herself and her team safe. In addition to all that’s going on with the group, a recent surge of supernatural activity has all the psychic agencies in London joining together in the fight, including Lockwood & Co.

My adoration for this fantastic series continues and I dread the day when the trio grows up and subsequently loses their ghost hunting abilities. The Hollow Boy is once again another solid installment that continues some fantastic character building and even adds a new character to the mix. I’ve seen a lot of readers express displeasure in Lucy’s attitude towards Holly, calling her catty and petty, and while I also originally felt disappointed in the immediate girl-hate, I could also understand it. Lucy is upset at the immediate change the house undergoes with Holly’s presence as well as the immediate closeness Lockwood shows her. She’s understandably jealous which quickly puts the brakes on any closeness the two girls could share. Jealousy, while hard to control, is alas a fact of life. Holly’s presence managed to throw a proverbial wrench in the comfort and familiarity Lucy was just beginning to feel and I don’t think it was unreasonable for her immediate response not to be “Hi, you’re a girl and I’m a girl! We’re going to be the best of friends.” It is what it is and I don’t like Lucy any less because of it.

The aspect of these novels that has been most satisfying is just how creepy they can be. Stroud’s writing is on point and because the entire novel isn’t a creep-fest the sections that do terrify really sneak up on you making them all the more effective. The descriptive detailing is enough to sufficiently get under your skin. Here’s just a taste of what I’m talking about:

‘I watched that notch of darkness.
I watched as something moved into it.
It came from the right-hand side beyond the arch, a human figure crawling on all fours. Scarcely blacker than the blackness all around, it dragged itself along on knees and elbows with a series of slow, slow, jerking movements. Now and again it advanced in swift scuttles, as a hunting spider might…’

I think it’s quite possible the word scuttle makes anything terrifying. Nothing should scuttle. *shudders*

This series is quite the underrated gem possessing a fantastic set of characters (plus a talking skull that adds a layer of comedy to this haunted tale), an intriguing alternate reality of sorts, and a subtle horror that is woven throughout the story. The ending sets up much anticipation for the next installment and I for one will be eagerly awaiting it.

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Ominous October – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud

October 16, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October – The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan StroudThe Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #2
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 16th 2014
Pages: 448
Genres: Ghosties, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Hollow Boy, The Creeping Shadow

four-stars

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.

The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus series delivers another amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted entry in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The-Screaming-Staircase.jpg

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud {PurchaseMy Review}

 

“Well, I make that one murder victim, one police interrogation and one conversation with a ghost,” George said. “Now that’s what I call a busy evening.”
Lockwood nodded. “To think some people just watch television.”

Lockwood, Lucy, and George are back and at it again, diving straight into another perilous assignment this time involving the most dangerous Visitor they have yet to go up against. After a recent job goes awry and the recently excavated burial site has been looted, including a most peculiar bone mirror, Scotland Yard hires the trio to track down the object as it seems to leave nothing but death in its wake. In addition to that adventure, the strange skull in the corpse jar is talking to Lucy much more frequently and he seems to actually be of some help with their latest case, but whether he can actually be trusted is the real question.

‘There are other things in the house to fear, besides me.’

The skull’s communications with Lucy added a strange and mysterious side story to The Whispering Skull since this skull seems to know a bit about the secretive door that Lockwood has forbidden everyone from entering. It arouses her curiosity and she has enough on her mind as it is and can’t afford to be distracted. This case involving the bone mirror is far more intricate than any of them seem to think, and will involve many close calls before the final page is turned. I’m constantly enthralled with the cases of Lockwood & Co. and this one was no exception. Not quite as scary as I found their Screaming Staircase case to be, but it was certainly no less engrossing and was actually quite a bit more fascinating.

​​‘And a quick word of advice. No cheap comments at her expense. She’s easily offended and would probably disembowel you.’
‘Story of my life,’ George said.

Once again though, I find myself completely smitten with this cast of characters. The stories themselves are phenomenal and will no doubt keep you entertained, but Lockwood, Lucy, and George are characters you will wish could come to life and befriend you. The Whispering Skull succeeded in expanding our knowledge of the group and leading to tremendous growth in the characters themselves. The new addition to the trio was a surprising new favorite, but you can never go wrong with a hilariously snarky character even if he is a skull trapped in a jar. The skull had his malicious moments and certainly complicated things occasionally but really added a welcome level of hilarity to the story. I’m hoping we continue to see him in future installments.

Such fun and entertaining stories, I look forward to more tales of the group’s thrilling adventures and hope they take their time growing up. It will be devastating when they are forced to retire from ghost hunting. Once again, I must highly recommend this undervalued series that is perfect for all ages and for fans of mysteries, ghost stories and anything Victorian.

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Halloween Thrills & Chills: 10 Great Horror Films with Jonathan Stroud

October 8, 2014 Bonnie Giveaways, Guest Post, YA 11 Comments

Autumn is my most favorite time of year. The cool weather, the beautiful colors and that desire to curl up with some eerie books and creepy movies. Today is my exciting tour stop on the Halloween Trills & Chills event hosted by The Midnight Garden and I’m featuring a guest post from Jonathan Stroud where he shares his favorite horror films. Having just read The Screaming Staircase and being currently in the middle of The Whispering Skull, I completely trust his opinion on anything creepy. His series is a fantastically fun mix of mystery and creepy that you won’t want to miss the chance to enjoy.

In addition to this guest post, you will have the opportunity to win a box of horror novels that you’ll get just in time for Halloween! Be sure to check out the full list of all the other stops on this thrilling tour for more chilling posts!

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud {Purchase – My Review}
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud {Purchase}

About Jonathan Stroud

Jonathan Anthony Stroud is an author of fantasy books, mainly for children and youths.

Jonathan grew up in St Albans where he enjoyed reading books, drawing pictures, and writing stories. Between the ages seven and nine he was often ill, so he spent most of his days in the hospital or in his bed at home. To escape boredom he would occupy himself with books and stories. After he completed his studies of English literature at the University of York, he worked in London as an editor for the Walker Books store. He worked with different types of books there and this soon led to the writing of his own books. During the 1990s, he started publishing his own works and quickly gained success.

Jonathan is the author of the bestselling Bartimaeus Trilogy as well as Lockwood & Co. from Disney-Hyperion.

Top 5 Classic Ghost Films

1. The Innocents (1962)
Absolutely my favourite ghost film, an exquisite and near perfect adaptation of Henry James’ classic The Turn of the Screw. Deborah Kerr plays a young governess who comes to teach two adorable children in an idyllic country house. All seems set fair, but it isn’t long before she begins to suspect that Miles and Flora are being haunted by two recently dead servants, who have come back from the grave to corrupt them. Scripted by Truman Capote and John Mortimer, and featuring wonderful performances by the child actors and Kerr, it maintains the ambiguity of the literary original. Is the governess seeing wicked ghosts, or is she barking mad? Either way, it’s scary and unsettling.
2. The Haunting (1963)classic movie collage
The original, not the dodgy remake. Another classy black-and-white adaptation of a literary classic, this time Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. A disparate group of psychic researchers arrive at a house of ill repute, and supernatural forces set to work. Soon one of them in particular, the vulnerable, repressed Eleanor, is being targeted. It can’t end well. Terrifically atmospheric and genuinely frightening.

3. Dead of Night (1945)
A classy portmanteau movie, with several ghostly tales told by guests at a party in a country house. Most famous is the final segment, with Michael Redgrave terrorised by a possessed ventriloquist’s dummy, but most of the other sections have been very influential. By turns comic (the golfing story), poignant (a Christmas encounter with the ghost of a murdered child), and eerie (the haunted mirror), it’s all tied together neatly by an excellent slingshot ending.

4. The Devil Rides Out (1969)
Can I include this? Does it actually have any ghosts in it? There are demons, afrits, cases of Satanic possession… and various ghostly things turning up to menace the heroes as they cower in their protective pentacle at the finale, so… yes, I reckon it’s in. Hammer Studio’s best film, written by Richard Matheson, and with Christopher Lee and Charles Gray on the top of their form, it’s gloriously lurid and excellent fun.

5. Night of the Demon (1957)
You have to ignore the first couple of minutes. In fact, best close your eyes for some of it, since the studio insisted on adding a redundant shot of the demon in question, when it would have been infinitely better to save it for the end. But the rest of Jacques Tourneur’s film is terrific, a spirited and atmospheric adaptation of M R James’s classic ‘Casting the Runes’. The kind of film (like several of these choices) that gives B-movies a good name.

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Top 5 Modern Ghost Films

1. Ring (1998)
Hugely successful, the Japanese movie Ring spawned a plethora of movies featuring creepy girl ghosts with a lot of long dark hair. What I love about it is its fusion of classic folklore (it’s ultimately derived from an old Japanese tale about a servant girl thrown down a well), and modern urban legend. The idea of a cursed videotape that kills the viewer snaps this vengeful spectre instantly into the present day (though I guess you’d need to make it a cursed app now). It gives her immense potency. For a film with such a scary reputation, it’s also highly restrained, relying on slow-build of atmosphere rather than Grand Guignol effects.
2. The Orphanage (2007)
There’s nothing like ghost children to pack an emotional punch. In fact, I almost didn’t put this Spanish masterpiece in my list, because I personally find the outcome so distressing! But it’s a cracking ghost story, beautifully produced and filmed, and derives its power from the seamless meshing of old and new tragedies, the repercussions of past evil, and the remorselessly logical build-up of its supernatural elements. In all of this, it mirrors the very best classic literary ghost stories.

Jonathan Stroud modern films3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Who couldn’t include this in a list of recent ghostly classics? Just occasionally a movie comes out where everything seems to work just right, and M Night Shyamalan’s debut is one of them. That ending aside, there are just so many brilliantly scary moments here, mainly involving the terrific Haley Joel Osment and what he sees when he’s alone at night. And Bruce Willis is fab too. A film that demands to be seen a second time, straight over, just so you can marvel how clever it is.

4. Stir of Echoes (1999)
Adapted from a book by genre great Richard Matheson (author of best-vampire-novel ever I Am Legend), this gets my nod for Kevin Bacon’s great performance as the ordinary Joe suddenly beset by creepy psychic visions. So many ghost stories have at their heart a vulnerable protagonist, isolated from everyone else by their sensitivity to occult forces. Quite often this protagonist is female (see Nos. 2 & 5 in my list) or a kid (No.3); here, refreshingly, it’s a big burly guy. Plus we get ghostly voices heard through a baby monitor, the possibility of which always used to freak me out when my kids were small. (We did once hear some strange voices, as it happened, but hopefully we were just picking up another family down the road…)

5. The Others (2001)
What is it about Spanish directors and great ghost movies? This one, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, is up there with The Orphanage and Guillermo del Toro’s Devil’s Backbone as a modern classic. Consciously playing with themes familiar to us since The Turn of the Screw – big mansion, vulnerable kids, uptight isolated woman, oppressive forces homing in – it strikes all the right notes thanks to a pitch-perfect performance from Nicole Kidman. It’s also got the great Eric Sykes it as a sinister gardener, which is a bonus in anyone’s book.

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Thrills and Chills: Halloween Event Tour with Jonathan Stroud, Hillary Monahan, and Laurie Stolarz

Wednesday, October 1   The Midnight Garden        5 Questions with Jonathan Stroud
Thursday, October 2       The Starry-Eyed Revue    Into the Spooky Swamp Setting of Mary: The Summoning
Friday, October 3            Supernatural Snark           Rules for Surviving a House of Horrors (guest post by Laurie Stolarz)

Monday, October 6          Xpresso Reads                Deleted Scene from Mary: The Summoning
Tuesday, October 7         Love is Not a Triangle      5 Questions with Laurie Stolarz
Wednesday, October 8    For the Love of Words     10 Great Horror Films with Jonathan Stroud
Thursday, October 9        Winterhaven Books         How I Became a Horror Fan (guest post with Hillary Monahan)
Friday, October 10           YA Romantics                  Quiz: What Dark House Character Are You?

Monday, October 13         My Friends Are Fiction   Fashion Accessories for Ghosthunters (guest post by Jonathan Stroud)
Tuesday, October 14        The Flyleaf Review         5 Questions with Hillary Monahan
Wednesday, October 15   Books with Bite               Top 10 Items to Survive The Dark House Amusement Park

Thursday, October 16       The Social Potato           A Tour of Jonathan Stroud’s Writing Space

Win a Thrills and Chills box of horror! Includes copies of the following new releases:

Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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Ominous October – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

October 7, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October – The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on August 29th 2013
Pages: 416
Genres: Ghosties, Horror, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
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Also by this author: The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy, The Creeping Shadow

four-half-stars

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

Readers who enjoyed the action, suspense, and humor in Jonathan Stroud's internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books will be delighted to find the same ingredients, combined with deliciously creepy scares, in his thrilling and chilling Lockwood & Co. series.

“My view is: with you and George on my team, nothing can stand in our way.” […]
“Thank you,” I said. “I hope so too.”
​Lockwood laughed. “There’s no ‘hope’ about it. With our combined talents, what can possibly go wrong?”​

Lockwood, Lucy, and George are a talented team of psychic investigators living in an alternative type of London where the young carry rapiers and hunt ghosts, otherwise known as ‘Visitors’ for a living. With their combined talents nothing should go wrong, but as that wouldn’t be any kind of fun, things do go terribly, terribly wrong. The bottom line: they’re in debt after their client sues them because the team unintentionally burned down her house after they tried to rid it of its ghostly inhabitant. This debt must be paid in a timely manner or they risk losing everything, including the disbandment of “Lockwood and Co.” When a dangerously risky but lucrative job falls into their lap, they immediately accept not stopping to consider the dangers.

This series introduction is basically Ghostbusters if they were teenagers and if Dan Akroyd’s part was played by a girl. Or if Harry Potter and the gang were ghost hunters. In other words, the whole dynamic of this story and its characters is off the charts wonderful and is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. The world this group lives in is one where the young start their careers early since the side effect of aging is also losing any psychic ability they possessed when they were young. Their work is forever perilous and in addition to their rapiers, they carry other basic forms of protection: salt, iron, and silver. Salt bombs and magnesium flares are often useful as well. It’s an easily imaginable world where the dead never quite stay dead.

The Screaming Staircase is told from the point of Lucy, the newest member of Lockwood & Co. She possesses an unusually heightened sense of hearing when it comes to Visitors and comes to London hoping to join an agency where she can put her skills to good use which is how she ends up employed at Lockwood & Co. Lucy is a headstrong girl that believes in her talents but is never boastful about them, Lockwood is a charismatic leader that is often rash and fails to contemplate situations before diving into danger and George is the often grumpy and moody but skillful researcher of the group. An affinity is quickly formed between the three despite all odds and the fact that they live and work together.

What was most enjoyable about The Screaming Staircase was how smart and well-refined it was written. The world was built up sufficiently and without any sort of info-dump, the characters were given an adequate amount of back story to keep the reader interested while still leaving us with questions and the subsequent answers to look forward to and the level of eerie was completely on point. This ended up being the perfect combination of entertaining and haunting and the mystery even kept me guessing. A most impressive first installment in a brand new series from Stroud, I will not only be picking up the next installment (okay, to be honest, I’m actually already reading it) but I’m now anxious to pick up his Bartimaeus series as well. Highly recommended for readers of all ages that like their mysteries just a bit eerie.

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