Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

A review of the young adult fantasy novel Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.

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Skulduggery Pleasant is the debut novel of Derek Landy, and the first book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I don’t know if there’s something in the water in Ireland that makes them really good at teenage fantasy fiction, but the book is top notch.

This first book, sometimes referred to as Sceptre of the Ancients, follows an undead sorcerer as he tries to save both the real world and the world of magic from destruction by a group a bad guys who are trying to bring back an ancient evil. The main protagonist, however, is a young girl, Stephanie, who inherits a house from her uncle. Under the house is a maze that Stephanie’s uncle, Gordon, used to house a mystical artefact, the sceptre of the ancients, that could destroy the world if it fell into the wrong hands. Stephanie and the undead sorcerer, Skulduggery, team up to save the sceptre and the world.

Is the plot deep and game changing? No. Kid discovers magic, discovers that she’s special and works with a mentor to save the world. It’s been done a thousand times before, but it’s rarely been done as well as this. Not only is the main character a really strong female lead, but most of the supporting characters are equally strong and female. They are all written with depth and character and are all as engaging as the main heroes. Which I find even more impactful as the book was written by a man. That’s not something that you see very often. It was refreshing.

Not only does Derek Landy create fantastic characters, he builds the world around them with an equal amount of dedication and depth. He makes it entirely believable that there’s a magical underbelly to the world that is keeping all things mystical away from the general public. The past is just as rich as the present, as well. With most of the characters getting a fully fleshed backstory that is drip fed throughout the entire series, further strengthening their already strong characters.

Skulduggery Pleasant is a fantastic book, and a brilliant start to a rather good series of books. It’s well worth you checking it out and giving it a read. You won’t be disappointed.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

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