Author: Derek Landy
Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.
Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the sceptre is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.
So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.
I already wrote a review for this book when I started out on my Freewebs-hosted review site, but after rereading it recently and seeing other sites’ book reviews that include much more detail and explanation, I decided to rewrite this review. My opinion of the book hasn’t changed too much but I’m still to give it another try, so hopefully this will be more informative and interesting to read!
The first thing that comes to mind when I finish this book is: this was so amazing. Then the next thought is that I need to read the next book. This book is such an interesting read, unlike most books out there. It’s got supernatural elements, which are always popular among the current young adult bookshelves, and it has action and a bit of mystery mixed in. Sadly there isn’t any romance in it, but it just wouldn’t work with the story so in a way I’m glad with that. The book is aimed towards boys and girls, not just a girly book with some aspects thrown in to attempt to grab some boys’ attentions. When I finished reading this I hoped there would be a little romance mixed into the later books (I’ve since read the next three books so I know if there is any included, but I won’t say anything so that I don’t ruin the surprise), but if it didn’t work with the story then I’m happy with it being excluded.
But back to the story at hand. Skulduggery Pleasant is amazing, although I think the little blurb can be misleading – Skulduggery is a big character but he’s not the main character, Stephanie is. It’s mostly from her point of view and follows her adventures with Skulduggery by her side, not the other way around. We never really get inside of Skulduggery’s head, never really discover much about him, but I’m perfectly content with exploring the life of Stephanie and how this sudden discovery of a magical world affects her. She’s such an interesting girl, sometimes wise beyond her years and then the next minute pouting and acting like the twelve year old she is, but it’s not annoying, it’s actually entertaining to read. I love reading the bantering between characters and the understated humor that seems to be absent from most American comedies.
Then there’s the fantasy aspects of the story. There’s plenty of magic in the story, but it manages to seem fresh even though not all of it is very original. The mythology of the story is great to read and I think it’s a good original concept. I feel for Stephanie, who desperately wants to be a part of this amazing world, even ignoring logic at times. Sometimes it seems like Stephanie isn’t being very clever about how she charges into things but considering her age I think it make perfect sense and goes along with her personality. She’s well-rounded, not too horrible or whiny, and I feel like I could be great friends with her. And the other characters, like Tanith and Ghastly, are interesting to read about. I find myself wishing I was in their world, too, fighting alongside them (although chances are that I wouldn’t last nearly as long as they did).
Overall, this has to be one of my favorite books ever. There’s magical aspects, plenty of humor, the pacing is great even though it takes the time to stick in witty dialogue, and it definitely leaves me waiting for more. I can’t wait for the next book (and luckily I’ve already read it – I’ll have a review of it soon)!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars