skulduggery pleasant


“Before I introduce you to a life of crime, I get to introduce you to the Elder Mages.”

“Crime sounds more fun.”

“As indeed it is, though I would never condone crime in any of its forms. Except when I do it, naturally.”

“Naturally. so why are we delaying the fun? What do these Elder Mages want?”

“They’ve heard that I’ve been dragging a perfectly nice young lady into all manner of trouble, and they want to admonish me for it.”

“Tell them it’s none of their business.”

“Well, while I do admire your moxie–”

“What’s moxie?”

“–I’m afraid that won’t work too well with these fellows. One thing you have to remember about the Elder Mages is that they’re–”

“Really old sorcerers?”

“Well, yes.”

“Worked that out all by myself.”

“You must be so proud.”

“Why do you have to report to them? Do you work for them?”

“In a way. the Elders pass the laws, and they have people who enforce the laws, but there are only a few of us who actually investigate the breaking of those laws–murders, robberies, a couple of kidnappings, the usual. And while I may be freelance, most of my work, and my money, comes from the Elders.”

“So if they want to wag their fingers at you…”

“I have to stand there and be wagged at.”

“So why do they want me to be there? Aren’t I the innocent young girl being led astray?”

“See, I dont’ really want them to view you as the innocent young girl. I want them to view you as the rebellious, insubordinate, troublesome rapscallion who has made herself my partner. Then maybe they’ll take pity on me.” (138-9)

Skulduggery Pleasantby Derek Landy

HarperCollins, 2008.

Paperback (w/ “Extras”), 416 pages.

ages 10 & up.

Have you hugged a book lately? Everytime I had to set down Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant I had to give it a brief hug first, I was so happy to be reading it. Yes, this could be attributed to the fact that the daughter was out of town and I was missing a hugging of someone intelligent and humorous and just flat-out brilliant and the book had to do. Although there was Sean and he is all those things… I suppose the book earned the hug on it’s own merit. Actually, I don’t suppose, I know it did. Skulduggery Pleasant is a fun, smart read.

Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton and a detective, and he was a good friend of 12 year-old-Stephanie Edgely’s late uncle Gordon. Stephanie Edgely is an only child residing in a small town in Ireland who wishes life were not so boring. Her problems are replaced by  the mystery of a murdered uncle, the Scepter of the Ancients, and of Skulduggery Pleasant himself. I mean, who is this living skeleton who can talk without lips and see without eyeballs? And is he the only one capable of magic?

Skulduggery’s world isn’t merely the fiction upon which Uncle Gordon’s successful novels were based. Its characters are as brilliantly realized as anyone could hope for; and the dialog is better than one should expect. As I was caught up in the banter between Skulduggery and Stephanie, I couldn’t help but think about Rose (Billie Piper) and Doctor Who (David Tennant). The comparison’s didn’t quit with the quick- and sharp-witted exchanges. Stephanie has a similar penchant for getting into a scrape and getting herself back out of it; and she has a fierce loyalty for those she comes to love. As for Skulduggery and The Doctor, it is the incredible energy and the enormous ego. Needless to say, fans of Doctor Who must read Skulduggery Pleasant.

“Stephanie and Skulduggery’s witty repartee is most enjoyable, and the pacing is fast, with constant action and fight scenes during which the author neither sugarcoats the violence nor revels in it unnecessarily.” Voya

The villains are quite scary and the peril is pretty intense. Yet it is as Voya notes in their review, “the author neither sugarcoats the violence nor revels in it unnecessarily.” People are murdered by heinous creatures, one is made into a monster in one the most disturbing parts of the book–and you see what evil’s consequences are, the threat compels the reader to cheer on the heroes and wonder at the outcome. Again, I am thinking of a Doctor Who episode; but I can’t disregard the originality of Derek Landy’s inventions. If I think Doctor Who or Terry Pratchett, it is that Skulduggery keeps good company. For Eoin Colfer fans, you’ll likely find this book a recommendation as well. Dark and evil things are scary, the wit has the reader laughing out loud, and the heart within each character (that has a heart) that is irresistible. I am glad Skulduggery Pleasant is a series. I want to read more.


In the “Extras” section at the back of the edition I read, there is a short story of a Skulduggery adventure called The Lost Art of World Domination. You can find it on-line here.

the Skulduggery Pleasant website.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. This sounds fun and reminds me of something I would’ve liked at age 12. The cover is quite reminiscent of a Goosebump book or some such. The violence & peril have me intrigued as well. Thanks for the review!

  2. L says:

    i thought of you when i read this. the wit and the bit of dark humor. and you’re right, hadn’t thought it, but it does look like a ‘Goosebumps’ cover.:)

  3. Carl v. says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun and the comparisons to Dr Who, specifically Piper and Tennant, don’t hurt. I doubt I would have looked twice at this but your review makes it sound too fun to miss.

  4. Kailana says:

    I LOVE these books. I actually lent the first book to a friend today. 🙂

  5. James says:

    Great review! As well as The Lost Art of World Domination, there’s also another Skulduggery Pleasant short story that you can download for free from Amazon. Cheers!

    1. L says:


thoughts? would love to hear them...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s