May 08, 2013 at 02:00 PM EDT

Never heard of Jonathan Stroud? Then stop what you’re doing right now and go pick up a copy of the first book in the Bartimaeus Sequence, The Amulet of Samarkand. Go on. We’ll wait.* Good, right? Fabulous, even? Alas, that trilogy is done (though there was a prequel published in 2010), but thankfully Stroud is back with a brand new series, Lockwood & Co., which has already been optioned for the big screen by Illumination Entertainment. And if it’s half as funny as Bartimaeus, consider us sold. Don’t take our word for it?** We’ll let Stroud himself tell you all about it. But first check out the cover below, along with an exclusive excerpt from Book 1, The Screaming Staircase.

London has become overrun by all sorts of nasty ghosts and specters, but only young people have the ability to see them. Enter Lucy Carlyle, the plucky heroine of Lockwood & Co. Together with Anthony Lockwood, leader of the titular psychic detection agency, and his sarcastic colleague George, Lucy must investigate the mysterious Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in all of England. Can they weather its horrors, including the legendary Screaming Staircase? Take a peek at the cover and preview the first chapter afterwards:

NEXT: Jonathan speaks about his new series, including the potential movie!

*Not that there’s any excuse for this. That book was released 10 years ago! I honestly don’t know how you’ve been functioning.

**Though you really should.

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