Synopsis: Meet Skulduggery Pleasant, a gentleman detective who is also a brilliant mage and well, a skeleton. At the funeral of Stephanie Edgley’s late uncle, she meets the mysterious man for the first time but it is only after he saves her from a vicious attack, that she realises magic actually exists. For ever the magical community has made sure the ‘mortal’ citizens don’t know of their existence but their secrecy is at stake when a madman and old enemy of Skulduggery’s threatens to blow all their cover. And if it were not enough problems Mr. Pleasant has to deal with, Stephanie is demanding to be his new partner.
What a dragon thinks: The book starts off with a witty remark which had me going already. If fun and sarcasm is involved, I am your girl and this series is spiked with dry humour, irony and deadpan statements. A lot of banter and sarcastic comments keep the story funny and enjoyable to read. While I was reading I had to laugh out loud more than once.
Gordon Edgley’s sudden death came as a shock to everyone – not least himself.
The story progresses fast and before we know it, we have witnessed Skulduggery Pleasant throwing fireballs and shooting his old-fashioned revolver. I really like the idea of a sharply dressed skeleton driving a vintage car and Skulduggery Pleasant definitely counts among my favourite characters! He is witty, smart and incredibly rude without even realising it.
Stephanie has glimpsed the world of magic and smells adventure and demands Skulduggery to take her with him because she deems her normal life boring. Reluctantly, Skulduggery agrees and provides her with some basics Stephanie will need in the magical world: Clothes made by Ghastly Bespoke, which fit perfectly and are warmth and cold resistant as well as bulletproof. Black of course – style is of the essence.
In comparison to mortals, sorcerers are aware of the power of a name and know that each person has three names:
- a given name, which is the one parents give you when you are born. This name is unsafe because it can be used against you
- a taken name, which is the name you choose for yourself in order to protect your given name
- your true name, the name which makes us and lies deep in our dreams and nobody ever, not even you, should know their true name
In the entire series we never get to know Skulduggery’s given name but Stephanie pretty soon decides upon a taken name: Valkyrie Cain.
The names are something I really love about this series because they all bear some meaning: Ghastly Bespoke, Tanith Low, Mr. Bliss, China Sorrows, Eachan Meritorious and so forth.
Skulduggery’s current case is to proof to the Elders, who are the head of each Sanctuary, that their old enemy Nefarian Serpine has broken the truce and is looking for an ancient sceptre to tear down the walls of reality and make a path for some old gods called the Faceless ones. I don’t want to spoil anything but for personal reasons Skulduggery is downright obsessed and almost desperate to finally be able to arrest Serpine – or kill him.
The world Derek Landy has created is not overly complicated in its structure and also the magic used is nothing new. Most mages are Elementals who as the name suggests, have a certain control over the four elements. The other category are Adepts who can have any power; from throwing energy to controlling shadows (Necromancy).
The plot remains interesting and there is a lot of action and fighting involved. Along the way we meet lovable characters but be warned. Derek Landy takes after George R. R. Martin. Don’t trust that man with your favourite characters – he will probably make them suffer.
As is the case with so many books and movies, I don’t like the main character, Stephanie Edgley, particularly much. She is very brave, no doubt but she is also highly capable of everything she does. Stephanie is arrogant in her own way and while I still liked her in the first three books, starting from book 4, she got on my nerves a little. Even if I didn’t see it right away, Stephanie is a Mary Sue. Still, I am in love with almost every secondary character and even some bad guys so I don’t really mind …
The publishing house deems the book appropriate for kids age 9 and up which I think is a bit early. True, it is funny and really cool but sometimes quite graphic when it comes to fights. Torture, a woman being stabbed with a scythe and burning people. Perhaps it is just me but I would say it is for ages 10 or even 11. And while Part 7-9 are for children age 11+ I would not give my children the books before they have reached 12 or even 13 years! Executions, gory fights and more torture.
Conclusion: The series is definitely fun to read, especially the first three books, which do not have the feeling of impending doom dripping from the pages. Enjoy the carefree atmosphere as long as it lasts because starting from book 4, the drama on! My mum got me the first three books for my birthday when I was 11 and while I was sceptical at first, once I had started I devoured the books. From then on, I unfortunately had to wait a year for every new release and now that I am 20, the series is finally concluded with 9 novels and two extra volumes. Over the years I have read the series again and again because I am a real fan of it and I love it!
Favourite Characters in the entire series: The Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant, Ghastly Bespoke, Erskine Ravel, Anton Shudder, Saracen Rue, Larrikin, Dexter Vex), TANITH LOW, Mr. Bliss, Lord Vile, Gordon, Kenspeckle Grouse
‘Magic’, he said.
- Author: Derek Landy
- Book 1: Skulduggery Pleasant
- Book 2: Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire
- Book 3: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones
- Book 4: Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days
- Book 5: Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil
- Book 6: Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer
- Book 7: Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked
- Book 7 1/2: Maleficent Seven
- Book 8: Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men
- Book 9: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light
- Short Story Collection: Armageddon Outta Here
- Age: 10-13
- Publishing House: Harpercollins
- Pages: 397
- ISBN: 978-0-00-724162-0