Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

After admitting to someone at work that I wanted to read the series after seeing him read it on break I finally got around to buying the book (to stop him moaning at me mainly) and thanks to being very ill today I managed to read it all in one sitting.

The question is did I like it?

Well you can probably tell seeing I read it in one sitting that I loved the book.

Skulduggery Pleasant is the Taken Name of the Skeleton Detective that meets Stephanie Edgley the day of her uncle Gordon’s funeral. After inheriting her uncles home and possessions (other then the car, the boat, the brooch and the villa) as well as his fortune, Stephanie is thrown into a world that she never knew about till now.

A magical world where a walking, talking Skeleton Detective is the least weird thing she’ll encounter.

It grips you from page one in a way not many books do. I found that Stephanie was a much easier character to follow on her adventures then many others. She wasn’t entitled, needy or in love with herself. I felt I believed her reaction to things more then I have other characters in similar books. It was never about her, she had her moments of course and I wished that some of her decisions and some of the things that she said which WERE wrong had a more lasting effect on her when she realised she was wrong but by all accounts her reactions were much better then others and at least she noticed when she’d made a mistake.

The biggest problem I had with Stephanie is that her story felt a little rushed. To get her to the point she is at the end of the book they rushed a lot of learning that I think would have been better going over into a second or even third book. At times her leap in confidence was a little too much for what she was actually doing but it never got to a point where I wanted to put the book down in annoyance at it all. Something that happens frequently with all the Harry Potter books.

I guess that is the biggest difference.

Stephanie Edgely loved being thrown into this weird world but she never felt ENTITLED to anything. She WANTS to learn magic, she WANTS to work with Skulduggery but she never feels like she SHOULD be doing these things. There are moments where she acts entitled to knowledge (I hate it when teenage/child characters demand to know why adults haven’t told them personal things like who their siblings are…) but thankfully at all turns she’s met with Skulduggery and his sarcastic responses. In the end the adults in the book do tend to bend to her will more then I think they should but she never truly demands it.

The build up of drama really worked, I kept looking at how many pages I had left even before I was half way through the book wondering how the end could ever live up to what I was reading and  boy did it. It builds and builds and they have so many adventures from being kidnapped, to running around in underground mazes, to constantly being back stabbed and double crossed, yet nothing feels rushed (other then character development) and it all works. they go from point A to B with real reason to do it, real links to why they have to be there and always when they get to point B (or C, D, E etc etc) there is something bigger and more dramatic to come.

OK the fight scenes can get a little long winded to read and sometimes its hard to keep track of what actually happened when they start in it, they could be a little more concise and a little easier to read but that is only a small part of it. It never holds back though. Horrible things happen and Stephanie has to see it, reacts to it, has to walk through it. Its got one of the highest body counts I’ve seen in a YA story but its not in your face.

All the characters were so interesting, it made you really want to learn more about everyone. I couldn’t pick one character that I didn’t love from the moment they were introduced (to probably the moment they were killed, or turned to stone…) That really is rare, there is usually at least one character that makes you want to throw the book out of the window but there wasn’t a single one I could think of that made me feel that way.

Best part of the whole book though was the humour. It really was right up my street, Skulduggery’s delivery and back and forth with Stephanie just reminded me of… Well me and my friends to be honest. He didn’t care, he was dry and grumpy and so full of himself but it just made him charming. A little bit like a less grumpy Commander Vimes. If you know who that is. Even in the face of danger he laughed and pissed off the bad guy. It also took some of the heavy stuff away, his past was really sad and he got bloody tortured half way through the book but the way he looked at life just made you realise there was no point in letting it get in the way. He himself wasn’t going to. It made the story stay light instead of delve into a deep abyss of depressing tales and sad characters. Shit happens and Skulduggery just gets on with it, he hasn’t always been that way by the sound of it but he’s learnt and he moves on.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m going to Taunton at the end of the month so money is tight I would be right out there buying the second book. As it is I’m dying to read it but will have to wait.

One of the best books I’ve read for a long time. Really liked it.

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