Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase, by Jonathan Stroud
I've been hearing a lot about this new series by Stroud, so I'm glad my mom borrowed a copy for me. She described it as a middle-grade Ghostbusters, which is about right. I've never read Stroud before, and this was a really fun read--I can't wait to read more about Lockwood & Co.! Also, the title--The Screaming Staircase--is pretty excellent and reminds me of old Three Investigators stories.
The story is set in contemporary London, but a London in a world that experienced a huge upsurge in hauntings, starting about 50 years ago. Thus technology and society have evolved to deal with the malevolent ghosts that appear every night, and since only talented children can sense the Visitors at all, ghost-hunters are all very young--though usually on teams led by adults.
Lucy can hear and see Visitors, but she's a bit down on her luck and is relieved when Lockwood hires her as an assistant. Lockwood is a great character, manic and reckless but a good leader when he stops to listen. Their tiny outfit can hardly compete with the big companies. Then they tackle a really angry murder victim, and are sent off on a mysterious job in a very haunted mansion, and it all gets interesting.
It's a fun story and I think nearly every 12- and 13-year-old of my acquaintance would love it. I certainly did. I think this is officially a middle-grade book for 10 and up, but I'd err on the older side for a lot of kids, since it's pretty gruesome.