Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked, Book Review

skullSKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: KINGDOM OF THE WICKED by Derek Landy

HarperCollins, h/b, £14.99

Reviewed by Rebekah Lunt

This is the seventh book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I’m guessing that they’re aimed at 12 – 16 year olds, although I’ve read them all and loved them so far. I received this latest book with great anticipation, and have to say it didn’t disappoint!

The series is the story of Skulduggery Pleasant, a detective who has magical powers, and just happens to also be a living skeleton – a kind of skeletonised Dr. Who (although much better written than much of the recent stuff…) Really though, it’s the story of Stephanie Edgeley aka Valkyrie Cain who, since the first book, we’ve followed as she partnered Skulduggery into the world of magic and crime-fighting.

I’m not going to tell you much about the story of this particular book as I don’t want to give any spoilers regarding the content of previous books: I strongly recommend that if you fancy reading this one, you pick up the first six books – believe me you’ll be giving yourself a really enjoyable read! Suffice to say, this story follows the same formula as previously in that Pleasant and Cain set out to save the world again, but this time there’s a particular focus on protecting the sanctity and authority of the Sanctuary in Ireland. (The Sanctuary is the organisation which safeguards the world of magic and keeps its members in line to protect the non-magical world.)

In previous books the Big Bads have mainly come from the realm of magic; in this one they are regular humans who’ve suddenly started manifesting mixtures of magical powers that make them powerful, and highly dangerous – both to themselves and others.

I have only one criticism of this book and it applies to all seven books: Derek Landy is a great, creative, and genuinely humorous author; however, each book starts of with a tone that just feels like it’s trying a little bit too hard. Things kick off in an awkwardly too cool, too witty style, almost like he doesn’t believe he’s a good enough writer. Thankfully, things always soon settle down to become absolutely engrossing, funny, and thrilling.

This book is such a good read, although I think they’re progressively becoming much more serious in tone. The violence has always been fairly brutal and realistic, but there are specific parts of this that take another step up – I don’t think this is a bad thing in a book aimed at teenagers, especially as the genuine impact of violence is always present, despite the magical body armour, etc.

One thing that especially impressed me was the epilogue – now, promise me no peeking because this is worth the wait! There’s been an issue that’s been slowly simmering away in the background and I honestly would have expected it to come to the forefront much earlier. However, with how Landy has kept things ticking along, even though you might expect this, it’s going to come as a genuine shock. I cannot wait to read the next one now!

This, along with the preceding six books, is a brilliantly paced, funny, thrilling and engaging story. You should go out and buy all seven right now – I can’t understand why these books haven’t had the same kind of reaction as the Harry Potter books, and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean as soon as you start reading and can’t stop!