Skullduggery Pleasant


Author: Derek Landy

Publication: 2008, Thorndike Press

Pages: 381

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Rating for Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary: When Sophie meets Skullduggery Pleasant at the reading of her Uncle’s will, her first impression is that he’s merely strange. But strange doesn’t begin to cut it once Sophie finds herself thrust into Skullduggery’s world and discovers that he is in point of fact a walking, talking skeleton who can conjure fireballs with his bare hands. Soon Sophie finds herself caught up in a war for the future of a world she didn’t even know existed – one where magic rules the day and danger lurks around every corner.

Age of Main Character: 12

What I Liked the Most: Skullduggery Pleasant is pure unadulterated fun. Landy knows how to keep things light even as Sophie is fighting for her life, and the banter between Skullduggery and Sophie is pitch-perfect. Besides, what’s not to love about a living skeleton with a comedic streak and a talent for digging up trouble?

While the idea of a hidden magical world existing side-by-side with our everyday world is nothing new, what makes this one special is the larger-than-life characters that Landy people’s it with. Even their names leap out at you – Valkyrie Cain, China Sorrows, Ghastly Bespoke, Sagacious Tome, Nefarian Serpine . And you can’t help but realize how much fun Landy must have had writing this.

What I Liked the Least: Sophie may be smart, funny, and daring, but when it comes to battling the forces of evil she can’t do a whole lot. That was less of a turn-off for me than usual, because Skullduggery is such a major part of the book that I didn’t having him always come to the rescue. I didn’t need Sophie to be in charge of saving herself. However, near the end of the book Landy blows a major opportunity to have Sophie fight back. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that during the climactic battle Landy led me to believe that Sophie had found a way to destroy the main villain, Nepharian Serpine, and I kept waiting for her to get to it and save the day. But nothing ever happened, and in the end it was once again up to Skullduggery to rescue her. The battle was still fun, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by the sense of lost opportunities.

How Good was the Action? Like the rest of the story, the action scenes flash past in a rush of good old fashioned swashbuckling fun. There’s fear and tension, to be sure, but between the chatty banter and Skullduggery’s fireballs and his hair trigger revolver most of the action feels like something out of a Sunday morning cartoon. Will it get your blood pumping? Probably not, but it sure is fun to watch.

How Engaging was the Story? Let’s be honest, Skullduggery Pleasant is more cartoon fun than deep and meaningful literature. But like all good cartoons, it draws you in, makes you laugh, and provides a rollicking good ride. You won’t want to stop turning the pages, and that’s the point.

Overall Assessment: Genuine swashbuckling fun, wrapped in magic, with a living skeleton for a bow on top. Enjoy.

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Some. This is a middle grade book, so the violence is fairly bloodless, but people do get stabbed and Skulluggery is pretty quick with his pistol – though in general he only uses it against magical beings and monsters.

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