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This has to be one of the best books I've read since Harry Potter. Its the sort of thing you read and think 'Why didn't I think of that?'. The story starts with Stephanie Edgley attending the funeral of her uncle Gordon, where she first notices the figure in the tan overcoat. The figure turns up again at the will reading where Stephanie learns she has inherited all her uncle's fortune and his house. He is the Skulduggery Pleasant of the title. Later, when she is spending the night alone in her uncle's house, she is attacked by a strange man and the figure in the tan coat, all hidden under a scarf, wig and sunglasses, turns up to rescue her. It is then that Stephanie learns he is in fact dead.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective and friend of Stephanie's uncle and he tells Stephanie that her uncle was murdered. Stephanie becomes determined to help in discovering who murdered her uncle and is drawn into a world of magic and strange creatures. Along the way the two main characters are joined by Ghastly, a very strong tailor and Tanith Low a swordsman from England (the story is set in Derek Landy's native Ireland.)
It is a very well written story and at 380 pages is quite long for its target audience of aged 9+ children but certainly does keep them hooked with every page turn. The backstory of Skulduggery is a bit complicated but necessary for the plot as it explains a) why he's there and b) his grudge against the baddie Serpine. However, this, and the complicated plot twists may mean this is book better aimed at the 12+ age range. The story has a resolution, as all stories must, but managed to leave you with the 'I want more' feeling that has allowed for several sequels.
Ok, I admit, I approached this book with extreme caution. It was recommended by my younger sister, aged 11, and after raving about it for a day or so after she'd finished it, she thrust it into my hands, ordering me to read it.
I approached with caution simply because (and call me prejudiced), it read: '9+' on the back cover, and I'm 18. But I've always enjoyed a good fantasy story so I gave it a go anyway.
Wow, I'm glad I did!
The story follows a 12 year old girl named Stephanie, who, after her Uncle Gordon dies, meets an old friend of his, a detective called Skulduggery Pleasant. Who is a skeleton. Suddenly she is introduced to a magical world, filled with fun, lively characters and enticing adventure. Of course, the old 'Good vs Evil' element is pretty strong in the story, so we have the cruel villain, Serpine, attempting to destroy the world, and it's up to Stephanie and Skulduggery to save the day.
Derek Landy handles the story supremely well. At times, I was quite taken aback by the violence, especially later on the book. However, Landy seems to know just how much is enough, and the entire story is injected with a great sense of humour, even within the darker themes. It certainly had me laughing out loud at times. The action is fast paced and fun, with a great cast of characters who are likeable and interesting. It's definitely a difficult book to put down.
As for the reading age, I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite my age, and see no reason why older people wouldn't enjoy it. The vocabulary is fairly simple, maybe challenging in places for younger readers. As an older reader, however, it wasn't so simple as to put me off reading it.
For younger children, this is a brilliant book to help introduce to fantasy stories. The story has twists, turns, suspense, and clues in abundance, so when the jigsaw comes together in the end, there will no doubt be excitement. For more experienced readers, however, some plot turns may be fairly obvious. But then again, it's aim is at younger children.
As for the old "will there be another one?" question, it is rumoured that there will be 9 books in total. The second and third are available now. Also worth a mention is the website: www.skulduggerypleasant.com, which has some great features and fun games to join in with. I admit, I played the quest game, and I enjoyed it too.
Right, I have heard soooooooo much about this book, and never thought such a book could be so good, so I gave it a try, and it's BRILLIANT! On the front of mine there is a sticker saying "4 Richard & Judy's Children's books Confident 9+". Now to be totally honest I'm 15 and there were some words and phrases that were a bit hard to understand, and if I was 9 years old I'd probably had scrapped reading this book. But considering I'm almost an adult I didn't scrap the book. What I'm getting at is that this book shouldn't be classed for confident 9 year olds; it should be classed for young adult readers at least. And it should have been up for the adult, Richard & Judy, competition; it would have won as adults would have more respect for the quality of the book. But I presume you can't always have it your own way.
I'm going to re order the way I'm going to write reviews. I'll start with the things that I put in last like price and cover, due to the fact that I think that some of the people reading this review normally reads the bit about the story and then skip all the rest and rate it that way, which in my opinion isn't at all rating the whole review only the bits that person had read.
So I'll start off with the price... Now the publisher's price is marked at £6.99, now you may be able to get it a lot cheaper from other stores. I personally got it dead cheap, at a price of just £2.00 off my scholastic magazine/catalogue my school library gets. Now for just £2 it was a total BARGIN, and you'd probably never see it at that price for at least another 5 years (my personal guess). Now for £6.99 it's the perfect gift for treating yourself, but an even better gift for a 13-17 year old for a certain celebration coming up (YUP CHRISTMAS or use it as a Halloween gift it'll be a perfect scary book to end the most perfect Halloween ever.) I also believe that Waterstones are selling it on their 3 for 2 offer or if not they may do when Christmas is upcoming as they usually put all children's books at 3 for 2 during Christmas season.
Now what is really makes this book eye-catching and that makes it stand out above the rest is the orange side on the paperback. Mine's going back to normal page colour but in the shops it is bright orange. I really don't know what to call it, it looks like someone's got a highlighter pen and coloured the whole sides of the book (And surprisingly enough the sequel is exactly the same apart from the fact that it's not orange, however it's green)
Now this book is about the main character Skulduggery Pleasant, but personally I think "Derek Landy", The Author, has nicked a bit of Shakespeare's writing technique as, like Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Derek doesn't start off with the main character, however we follow a girl called Stephanie Edgley. Now I believe she becomes our main character and Skulduggery becomes our co-main character.
Stephanie's Granddad dies and this is how Stephanie and Skulduggery meet. But to start off with, in Mr. Edgley's will, he gave Stephanie his entire house and a lot of other things and Skulduggery got a little thing. However, they meet again when Stephanie is sleeping at her granddad's house someone breaks in looking for something; however Skulduggery is there to save her and beats up this intruder. Now Stephanie is involved in a wide world adventure that includes magic and detective work. Where she gets involved in stuff any young person could only dream of. She get wrapped up in meeting Ghastly Bespoke who is a craft maker and makes Stephanie new clothes personally for her. But he doesn't believe in taking a child into the world of magic and horror. And she also meets Tanith Low who is enormously pretty, but is probably the best fighter on the planet; do not get on the wrong side of her. They are the main characters and they have pictures of them on the inside covers. But Stephanie is working with these people... Can she help Skulduggery work out the clues Mr. Edgley's left for them? Can she ever be able to use magic? Will she master skills she thought she didn't have? Can she survive in this rueful world? Can she fool her parents into thinking she's still with them, even though she's with Skulduggery? Can she? Can she? Can she? So many questions not so many pages to fill in the answers, how did Derek Landy manage to answer all my questions in one book I shall never know, I just wish I could have my own mirror image so I can be in 2 places at once dreams can never be reality unfortunately.
Now the picture above show's skulduggery and yup he's a skeleton, and he's the good guy...
Now even though I may have rearranged some of my structure of my reviews, I'll always leave this bit last and that's more about the Author Derek Landy (I nearly put Skulduggery Pleasant he he):
There is not much about him on Wikipedia and I gather he is a pretty good writer as he has written 2 screenplays and now officially 2 children books the 3rd one coming out in April...
Buy this book from:
Amazon: £1.94 + £2.75 P&P = £4.69
Play.com: £4.99 + £0.00 P&P = £4.99
You may get it from other places but I usually use those 2!
I hope some of you will think about buying this book as it is seriously good, as most of the books I read are, this one captured me in seconds and somehow I finished 380 pages in 3 days, which I usually don't do.
Oh I almost forgot to tell you about one extra fun thing for kids at 9+ that involves this book, and that is that there is an online site where you can play skulduggery Pleasant THE GAME! Now on the back there is a secret password (they are all the same) but it gives the child a chance to become a detective for a few days while playing the game, the child needs to find all the clues left for him/her. Just like how Stephanie and Skulduggery did to find what they were after. The clues in the book were set out by Mr. Edgley. However I believe he is not a real person and he is only fiction, so I presume either someone from Harper Collins Publisher (Who made the book) created all the clues on the website, or Derek Landy himself, but I played this game and I became ultra bored with it, so I presume this game is strictly not for adults and young adults, and will probably be more frequently used by children aged 9 and above. The game sounds pretty good according to the description on the last few pages, but I got bored with the website really easily. Although, if you asked any 9 year old on the website, they might say they enjoyed it. Anyway you control Stephanie in the game and just simply pick up items around the house. Then afterwards you pick up items somewhere else etc. Whether you do anything with them I do not know considering I gave up after a while, but if you want to know what's beyond picking up clues why not buy the book, read it, then go on the website, but I must say, DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT, go on it before you've even started the book as there'd be stuff o0n there that you would not understand and you will only understand it if you have officially read the book.
I really hope you'll pick up this book from the shops and not even hesitate about the price, although it does make you hesitate, you'd feel dumb after reading such a book that you'd regret hesitating TRUST ME. Now I believe anyone attempting to read it, you'll have to put on your seat belt as you'll be in for a really bumpy ride, but also a ride you'll never want to escape from.
This book was recommended to me by my 12 year old son. This adventure story follows a 13 year old girl Stephanie and her journey into a world of magic and horror. Stephanie's uncle Gordon is a writer, who dies suddenly leaving her his entire estate. This is when she meets Skulduggery Pleasant a detective who is already dead. He introduces Stephanie to this other world of ancient magic and evil. Together they embark on a quest to retrieve a secret key and uncover the reasons for her uncle's murder, all the while being pursued by evil.
The story moves at a fast pace, it's funny and action-packed, with scenes of fighting and torture.
The characters are all superbly unique and brilliantly portrayed. The dialogue between Stephanie and Skulduggery is witty and charming. The plot is original and keeps you wanting to read on.
An excellent and exciting tale of magic and adventure.