Book Review: "Skulduggery Pleasant" by Derek Landy.

I've read both books in this series thus far, but I'll just post the review for the first book now. Maybe the second one later this week. The book was written by the same guy who wrote the movies Dead Bodies and Boy Eats Girl. This book is also in the process of becoming a movie, though it probably won't be out for another year or two.


After Gordon Edgely mysteriously dies, he leaves his entire house to his 12-year-old niece, Stephanie. In doing so, he also leaves her an open door into a world of magic and mayhem. Enter Skulduggery Pleasant, a witty, wise-cracking, fire-wielding, magical detective… oh, and a living skeleton. He reluctantly teams up with Stephanie to solve her uncle’s supposed murder and introduces her to a dangerous and magical world that was right under her nose the entire time. And when Skulduggery’s arch-nemesis threatens to break a Truce created long ago after a secret war had ended, it is up to both of them to figure out what is going on and how to stop it from happening before it’s too late.

I've read this one twice (the first time a while back, and the second not too long ago before the sequel came out), and it really is witty fun. Although it’s a (400 page) children’s book, it has some pretty hardcore action in it. And while the action is fun, the best part of the book is its dialogue (whether actual or internal). It’s quick and witty, like it came right out the mind of Joss Whedon (or the people who make Gilmore Girls). And it’s truly hilarious. This was one of the first books that has ever really had me laughing aloud the first time I read it (after Odd Thomas).

But it does have some downsides to it. Because the book is mostly dialogue instead of descriptions and such, there’s not a lot of character growth or attachment. Stephanie stays a highly intelligent wise-cracking 12-year-old and Skulduggery stays a highly intelligent wise-cracking skeleton detective. You do learn more about personal histories, but you might not feel anything in particular about it when it happens. Also, there’s a lot of clich├ęs within the story (though that’s not necessarily a completely bad thing). It also strongly follows the Chekhov’s Gun rule (introduce a gun in act 1, it better be used in act 3). In other words, anything barely mentioned at the beginning is of some higher purpose toward the end, which makes the book mostly predictable.

But that’s not to say the characters are unlikable. While Stephanie is your average preteen heroine, Skulduggery is smooth and funny, and Tanith Low, a character introduced a bit later, is really cool (even though she has a semi-personality change towards the end). Tanith was the one big character I actually cared a lot for, because she was awesome and had a fun personality, not to mention she wasn’t one of the two main characters, which meant she could easily die at any time.

Anyway, I would really recommend this book to people who love fantasy-type books (or detective novels and don’t mind a fantasy element)… or people who just love funny, witty characters and dialogue. It isn't the best-written book ever created, but it's good for a brief bit of entertainment. So go read Skulduggery Pleasant. It might be 400 pages, but the print is huge, so it's a super-easy read.

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