The Screaming Staircase is the first in the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud (yes, of the hilarious Bartimaeus fame). The Lockwood series too has an intriguing alternate reality as its setting: it is based in England, but not quite as we know it. For, some 50 or so years ago, for reasons unknown, the dead came back to flit among the living—in the form of ghosts.
Unfortunately, while ghosts can harm everybody, only children can see or hear them. Those with exceptional psychic talent are packed off to train as psychic investigators, and are snapped up by agencies that specialize in cleaning up hauntings. In one such agency, a rather ramshackle and useless one called Lockwood & Co., Lucy Carlyle, all of 15, walks in to seek her fortune. Lucy teams up with Anthony Lockwood and George Cubbins, and they plunge headlong into a dangerous assignment that involves spending one night in England’s most haunted house.