Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

October 13, 2009 at 11:41 am (fantasy, Reviews, teen, urban fantasy)

And now, as they say, for something completely different.  The Teen section of the library came through for us once again with a funny, creative, scary, contemporary fantasy adventure story.  I enjoyed it immensely, and according to the series website, there are now three volumes!  And this first one is now available under the title Scepter of the Ancients, too.

In this real-world-with-hidden-magic story, Stephanie Edgley (age 12) learns about the hidden magic the hard way – when a stranger breaks into the house she inherited from her uncle and demands “the key.”  What key?  She has no idea.  Then she’s rescued by her uncle’s detective friend, a walking, wise-cracking skeleton named (you guessed it) Skulduggery Pleasant.

Stephanie’s a pretty tough twelve-year-old (apparently she’s an athlete, though this all goes down during summer break), and that’s a good thing, because she winds up doing a lot of running, stopping fast-moving objects (fists, tree limbs, floors), and jumping off heights.  When they make the movie (they’d be stupid not to make a movie of this book … oh wait, never mind), the fight choreographers will have a grand old time.  Not to mention the SFX people.

So anyway, the Scepter of the Ancients is an unbeatable weapon, and thought to be a myth by everyone except the major villain and a very few others.  Naturally, the villain’s correct on this one.  Skulduggery and Stephanie have to figure out everything from what the villain’s after, to where it is, to how to keep it (and then get it) away from him.

Don’t think from what I’ve said so far that this novel is all jokes and hijinks – people are seriously threatened, killed, tortured, etc.   If it wasn’t for the humor it would be a terribly dark story.  As it is, even being nearly eaten by a carnivorous plant has its amusing moments.

Hmm … my library has the second and third volumes shelved in the Juvenile section instead of Teen.  Whatever.  At least they’re there!


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