Borrowed from my son Josh.
"With his sunglasses gone there was no denying the fact that he had no face. All he had was a skull for a head."
Meet Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, sworn enemy of evil.
Oh yes. And dead.
Josh labelled this 'the best book I've ever read' and has been working his way through the series. He got the fifth book Mortal Coil for his birthday and is really enjoying it.
He's hinted a few times that I should read it. "It's got supernatural themes, Mum, you'd like it," he helpfully told me.
Who can refuse when their own son is suggesting a 'must read'? Not me!
Stephanie Edgley is sad when her favourite uncle Gordon dies unexpectedly, and is surprised to find that she is the beneficiary who inherits the bulk of his estate. She meets the mysterious Skulduggery Pleasant at the funeral and then again at the reading of the will. Before long, she finds herself searching for a missing key, meeting an array of unusual people, and fighting for control of an ancient weapon. And trying to do magic.
I completely understand why Josh likes this book so much.
First, Skulduggery has a lot of great funny lines. It's a little heavy on the sarcasm, but Josh is mature and clever and is able to appreciate the humour. For example:
Skulduggery to Stephanie: "You know, I met your uncle under similar circumstances. Well, kind of similar. But he was drunk. And we were in a bar. And he had vomited on my shoes. So I suppose the actual circumstances aren't overly similar..."
Second, there's plenty of action. I don't really enjoy reading blow-by-blow fight scenes, but I'm guessing that ten-year-old boys do!
Third, there's magic, and a whole mythology surrounding the Ancients, the Faceless Ones, Elementals and Adepts and Necromancers. We learn just enough about the alternate universe that Landy has created as the plot unfolds, with hints that there is more to come in future books.
Skulduggery Pleasant won the 2008 Red House Children's Book Award, which is voted for entirely by children. This year's winner is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Recommended for both boys and girls who enjoy adventure stories. I'd describe it as Nancy Drew meets Harry Potter. Landy has cleverly created a team composed of a young female protagonist and a male mentor figure who is just irreverent and immature enough to not seem too much like an adult. Landy has used a balance of male and female energy and characters to create a story that will appeal to both boys and girls.
I'd love to hear from you if you or a child you know has read this. What did you think of it?