Friday, December 11, 2009

My Take On Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Stephanie Edgley has always yearned for something more than the ordinary life she leads. The death of her strange and fantastical uncle Gordon Edgley opens the door to the world of magic, but if you are thinking of fairies, think again! The first surprise comes when she learns that she inherits most of her uncle's not inconsiderable estate. The bigger surprise comes when she meets one of his closest friends, "Skullduggery Pleasant." He is a dead magician who has come back to life, possessed by thoughts of revenge and victory against his old nemesis, Nefarian Serpine, who only wants to end the world as we know it by bringing back the original evil gods with the use of a Scepter that no one believes is real. Did I mention Skullduggery is a skeleton with a borrowed skull plus great fashion sense? Together Stephanie and Skullduggery embark on a journey of discovery and adventure, meeting interesting characters along the way, like the scarred boxer-tailor Ghastly Bespoke; Tanith Low, the troll-slaying lady in black; and China Sorrow, the seductress who appears to have a romantic hold on Skullduggery's reluctant affections.

I loved this book! It was fast, action packed, hilarious, stylish, and so smart! And as with many a great story, this one begins with an inheritance. 12 year-old Stephanie Edgley's inheritance to be exact. After her eccentric uncle, whom she was very close to, dies under mysterious circumstances Stephanie is introduced to a world of magic and danger that she's only ever read about in Gordon Edgely's books.
Well, I might be jumping the gun by saying that the story begins with the inheritance; for certain, that's where the book begins, but I suppose it's far more accurate to say that the story begins when she meets Skulduggery Pleasant. No matter where it began the story was fantastic and well worth reading.
Skulduggery Pleasant was full of magic and humor. The dialogue was fast and witty and never slowed down. Example of wit: when asked what he missed most about being alive, Skulduggery answered, "Hair. I miss how it just was." Cracked. Me. Up.
Another thing I loved was the use of names. See, names have power. And I'm not talking, "Guess my name and you get one wish!" Rumple Stiltskin kind of stuff. No, no, no, it's infinitely cooler than that. In this book, people have three names: your given name, which is what your parents choose to call you1, and magicians can use it to make you do things against your will; your true name which you're born with and can be used to gain complete control of you; and your taken name, which is exactly what it sounds like, a name that you choose for yourself2. It seals your given name from being used against you. My taken name is Rivers Jubilee3. The power of names was one of my favorite things about this world because it gave Landy the opportunity to give his characters the absolute coolest names in the history of history, China Sorrows being my favorite of them all, though I wasn't too fond of her as a person. i also really like Mr. Bliss, though I was disappointed that his firt name was never given. Archibald Bliss? Randy? Seward?
Our protagonist Stephanie Edgely was a great lead. She was gutsy, smart, brave, and she could stand on her own. Skuluggery was her mentor, not her hand-holder. She was a very capable girl. She also had great taste and a razor sharp wit.
I rate this mid-grade book either a strong PG or a light PG13 for violence and "scary moments"2.
I give Skulduggery Pleasant...

...five zombies!!!
If you're searching to fill the void left behind by Harry Potter, this series fits the bill perfectly. Magic, danger, an ancient evil, and a dastardly arch nemesis make this series one of my new favorites. A must read. Period.

Happy reading,
Zombie Girrrl

1  And no matter how dreaful that it be, you're stuck with it.
2  This really makes up for whatever unfortunate moniker you may have been sadled with when you a poor, defenseless baby.
3  I feel that it fits me rather well, though it took me a few days to come up with that name which is the the express reason why this review wasn't published sooner.


pirate penguin said...

Five zombies? Woah. :D

I will be honest and say that the cover doesn't reel me in. But...since you've given it such a high rating, I will have to reconsider. This is a series right?
Ohh! Faeries have that kind of problem too-if someone/something finds out their true name, they're forced to tell the truth. that's what happens in the tithe series by Holly Black. o.O!

Rivers Jubilee? Nice :)

Emily said...

I remember reading this book and thinking it was like a movie script; it was really easy to imagine everything that's going on. Makes me want to go pick up the other two books that are out. Great review!


Sounds like a fun read!

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I actually like the cover and this one sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the review!

Zombie Girrrl said...

@Sandy: Yeah, not a huge fan of the cover. It's better than PB ones, though, that's for sure. And, yes, this is the first book in the series, though I have no idea how many books thereare. I hope it's a very long series. ^-^

@Emily: I thought it read like a movie, too. maybe that's why it's being made into one. !!! I can't wait to see it! =D

@Eleni: Hey, girl! Totally a fun read. Lots of action and sooo witty. :)

@AlyssaK: Love the new avatar! Your parets are so cool; mine hate how much time I spend I online. =P

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