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Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

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Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy is filled with hooks, inventive and compelling characters, and intriguing conflicts. The main characters, Stephanie and Skulduggery make a captivating and often hilarious team. As soon as I read the final page of the book I was itching to read the sequel.

In modern-day Ireland, Stephanie Edgley’s Uncle Gordon has just died. At the reading of the will, twelve-year-old Stephanie is surprised to inherit nearly the entire estate. She’s even more surprised to meet a witty detective named Skulduggery Pleasant, who also happens to be a sorcerer and a skeleton. After surviving a few attempts on her life, Stephanie joins Skulduggery in a quest to solve her uncle’s murder.

Each character has such a unique voice and personality that attribution isn’t even necessary during dialog exchanges. Stephanie and Skulduggery have a quick and witty rapport and complementing personalities. Even Uncle Gordon, who is dead from the very first line of the book, has a unique personality. Through only third party recollections and the words of his last will and testament, Gordon is the coolest uncle ever.

The only flaw I encountered in the novel was the climax of the story. Stephanie drives the action through the entire story but when we get to the climax, she turns passive and winds up getting rescued. The protagonist of a story should never be a bystander during the climax, but at that point I was so hooked by the story I didn’t care. A swat team led by Bruce Willis and Wesley Snipes could have busted through the wall and I probably would have bought it. Landy answered the story question and wrapped up the current plotline nicely, but left plenty of enticing potential for future stories. I’m not going to get tired of these characters anytime soon.

This is a book for anyone who has ever walked through the winding, twisting house of a relative and imagined hidden passages tucked around the corners. Landy seamlessly weaves magic into the modern world to create a setting and tone that’s a little bit like The Dresden Files for kids. So far there are four books available in the series; the fifth is slated for September 2010; and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was a movie soon.

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