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Skulduggery Pleasant Derek Landy

Surprised Smiles Imagine you’re at a funeral. Sorry about that, but there you are. You see a mysterious man. He even shows up when the will is being read out. Still, that’s not too strange. What IS strange is that when you try to spend the night at your late uncle’s house, someone tries to break in and kill you!
Surprised Sharky Well they don’t really come to kill you. You’re just in the way.
Shocked Smiles That doesn’t make it any better! Anyway, you get rescued by the mysterious man and get thrown in a dark and sinister world of magic and impending war!
Default Sharky Also he’s a skeleton.
Shocked Smiles Spoilers!
Default Sharky Oh please, he’s on the cover.
Default Smiles So here’s where we stand, once again casually endangering a young’un in our quest for fantasy entertainment. … maybe it doesn’t quite count since several people DID try to tell her to be careful. But she’s a determined girl.
Angry Sharky 3 There’s a couple of moments where she slips into angsty and bitter ‘I don’t want to listen to anyone but everyone must listen to me’ mode, but luckily they’re brief and far apart. Just as well, I was sick of the constantly angsting ‘TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT WHILE I ACT LIKE A CHILD’ main characters even when they were a new concept.
Default Smiles If there’s any characteristic Sharky hates more than anything else, it’s that.
Angry Sharky GAH.
Sassy Smiles See.
Happy Sharky2 Stephanie gets a pass because it doesn’t last long and she really comes into her own about halfway down the book.
Default Smiles And in the meantime, Skullduggery is just very, very fun, as are a couple of his other companions. He’s quick-witted and sarcastic and in his hands the plot ticks along at a fantastic pace. Add to that, as in any good fantasy novel, the world building is pretty decent, full of nice touches like old gods and names having power and the worst looking neighbourhoods of a city actually being magic communities, because ordinary people get discouraged from visiting.
Happy Sharky2 There’s a moment that balances comedy and tension perfectly when a very time-limited magical recording has been recorded by a chatterbox who can’t keep his mind on what he’s supposed to do.
smiles-intensifies Oh the balance is great. What’s also great is reading the action scenes, because BOY are those action scenes… packed with action. There’s a hefty dose of flipping and wall running that has me convinced that one character’s magic ability consists of turning her life into a kung-fu movie, and it’s AWESOME.
Surprised Sharky It’s movie style over-the-top fantastic action, so it doesn’t really focus on the gore or get too graphic. So it gets away with quite a lot, but the sheer AMOUNT of people getting casually beheaded or impaled or at one point TORN INTO RIBBONS is… impressive. Not to mention one guy having a hand that is just blood and muscle. Still, I’m not turning this into a ‘how is this book for kids’, rant.
Surprised Smiles You’re not?
Default Sharky Nah. The main character’s eleven. And anytime the main character of a book is very specifically eleven, that means the target audience is pretty much eleven. Gets a pass. I don’t see a six year old potentially picking it up like they might pick up a Roald Dahl book or something. So it's fine.
Sassy Smiles And she also gets a pass as a pre-teen protagonist? You’re being surprisingly lenient.
Happy Sharky2 She’s not my favourite eleven your old protagonist but she’s far, faaaaaaaaaaar from the blandest or the most annoying. She can be pretty great, in fact. I love her banter with Skullduggery, it really feels like there aren’t a lot of people who can keep up with him, and she’s one of them, which fits her into his group very well. Physically as well as emotionally.
Confused Smiles But?
Sad Sharky … well, you remember a while back I said how I cool off on a series a bit if the author ends up focusing less on characters I really like? There’s maybe ten books in this series, and it’s my own fault but I sort of got into it for Skullduggery more than Stephanie. So any books that remove him from the plot for purposes of drama are ones I just don’t like so much. Don’t get me wrong, I still read them, because there’s great characters aside from him and she’s got really good moments too, and I GET he’s not the main character, but he’s just my favourite.
Default Smiles So you and the author had fundamentally different ideas about who to spend all your time with. It happens. If it didn’t turn you off it-
Sassy Sharky Gets a pass?
Surprised Smiles Yeah. I mean I’ve seen you give up on a series halfway through. Plenty of times. So this can only be good.
Happy Sharky2 Hey, it IS good. And another stunning cover. Not ashamed to say I bought the first book solely on the strength of the cover.
Happy Smiles The rest of the covers in the series are alright, and they’re all by the same guy, Tom Percival, but his first cover just grabs you by the collar, grins a skeletal grin right in your face and says ‘how about giving me a try?’
Sassy Sharky And really, what more can one ask from a cover?
Shocked Smiles P.S: The cover artist reworked the covers recently. On the one hand I'm delighted because they're now better than the slightly samey ones from before. On the other hand Sharky is furious because it took us so long to complete the collection and NOW YOU RELEASE THE COVERS WE SHOULD HAVE HAD CURSE YOU TOM PERCIVAL.

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