Monday, February 16, 2009
Skulduggery Pleasant - detective, snappy dresser, wizard, smartass - returns in this sequel to the eponymous first book in the series, along with his apprentice Stephanie Edgley (who is now known as Valkyrie Cain). Oh, and did I forget to mention? Skulduggery is dead. Well, kind of. He's a living skeleton. But he doesn't let that hold him back. As he says, "I like to think that I've grown into a very well-adjusted skeleton."
The audio version of the first book in the series, Skulduggery Pleasant, was an Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production honor book, so I decided to listen to it, and I'm glad I did. It had creepy music, sound effects, one of the best narrators I've ever heard, and the icing on the cake was a delightful interview with Skulduggery himself at the end of the book! But don't worry, if you didn't catch the interview, you can listen to it here at Skulduggery's own website, which is a very fun place to visit. Of course I had to listen to the second installment in the series, and it was just as rewarding as the first.
The following may contain some spoilers, so if you are interested in this series, I'd suggest you check out my review of the the first one. In this installment, Valkyrie is settling into her new life as Skulduggery's apprentice, studying magic and martial arts, and she loves it. She has learned how to create a mirror image (literally - the image walks out of the mirror) of herself, so she isn't bothered with the drudgery of attending classes while she pursues her own unusual schooling. She's feeling confident in her developing powers - that is, until she comes up against Baron Vengeous, Skulduggery's old foe, who is once again intent on bringing back the faceless ones, an ancient, terrifying race. Vengeous's first move is to bring back the Grotesquery, a horrific creature made up of various parts of ferocious mythical creatures.
Skulduggery and Valkyrie must work together to prevent the return of the faceless ones, but before long it is clear that they are in well over their heads. To add to Valkyrie's woes, she is forced to attend a family reunion for her father's side of the family, and it is amusingly clear how little she has in common with them when she finds herself wishing, as she suffers through the reunion, that the vampire legions would just hurry up and attack already. I found this sequel to be just as enjoyable as the first - the characters are compelling and fascinating, and the dark storyline, complex plot and and wry humor are an irresistable combination for this reader. I highly recommend this delightful, fantastical series, and if you can find the audio version, you will definitely not be disappointed.
Books in the Skulduggery Pleasant series:
1. Skulduggery Pleasant
2. Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire
Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire (#2 in the Skulduggery Pleasant series) by Derek Landy; narrated by Rupert Degas (HarperCollins Audio, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
The Fickle Hand of Fate: "This is one of those rare finds in which I loved ALL of the characters, couldn't predict the twists and turns, and couldn't be distracted from the book for more than ten seconds."
Fields of Gold: "This book was extremely enjoyable and I am absolutely in love with the characters."
The Official Blog for Jamieson Wolf: "Landy manages to write a dark Gothic fantasy that is laugh out loud funny and also incredibly original, fresh and new."