Monthly Archives: June 2017

Skulduggery Pleasant #4: Dark Days – Derek Landy

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5 stars out of 5

I really, really hate Davina Marr.

Okay. Here we go. A kiss from Fletcher Renn quite close to the beginning, and at the end they’re “together”. Yes, it’s still pretty low-key and even Stephanie’s… And maybe I should really start calling her Valkyrie… okay, so Valkyrie’s reaction to said kiss was quite understated, but… irchz. Let’s just wait and see. (But really: experience tells me that it usually gets worse from that point onwards.
And I actually agree with China on that one: there can’t come anything out of it. I don’t think Valkyrie has realized it (yet), but at this point she is neither willing nor able (not to mention old enough) to have any kind of serious relationship, plus, she loves “adventuring” with Skulduggery way too much. I don’t see Fletcher deal all that well with playing second fiddle all the time. Maybe for a while, yes, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be fed up with the way Valkyrie’s handling this relationship thing at one point.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler when I tell you that Valkyrie’s mother is pregnant. At this point I’m just exuberantly happy that it’s not Valkyrie who’s pregnant. I mean: book 4. Many writers of dystopian novels (not that I’m saying this series is dystopian, but still) would’ve probably jumped at the chance. Then again, in a lot of dystopian novels Valkyrie would have fallen in love for about five times by now, so…

Wow. Skulduggery is really messed up from his time in the parallel dimension. Almost just like his “before-self”, but with quite an edge. I thought it was a lie when he told Valkyrie that it was just ruse to fool Marr and Guild, and that his “messed-up-ness” will flare up again at some point, but apparently he was telling the truth, because his time over there is never mentioned again. (Or just once. Briefly.) Which is a pity. I would’ve loved to see more of a slightly disturbed Skulduggery, and his friends doing his best to help him back on track.

Solomon Wreath reveals his own agenda; and, while I knew he had one, I didn’t know it would be quite that big. Anyway. Good luck with that. I’m not entirely sure yet, but I still think Valkyrie will knock them dead. (Whether literally or metaphorically I don’t really care. Apparently it’s true and all Necromancers are a) not to be trusted, b) not very nice people, c) idiots and d) idiots – no that’s not a typo, that point just bears repeating.)

The case itself is pretty straightforward: The bad guys try to destroy the Sanctuary. Well, it’s a bit more complicated, but essentially that’s it. This books lead bad guy also wants to take revenge on Guild (which I can totally understand), and goes about it in a very smart way. Once more Team Skulduggery has to really work for it to save the world (again), or at least a few thousand people. I liked it.

Also: Clarabelle is unsettling.

Also no. 2: There was a point in this book where Remus Crux wanted to kill Valkyrie to make her “pay for the crimes of her ancestors”.
“Original Sin” was, is and ever will be the most stupid, ridiculous, useless and just plainly idiotic concept ever thought of, and I will never be able to like, respect or take seriously anybody who actually believes in it.

And, of course, as if things weren’t bad enough already, the book ends with quite a bang. I’m sure this will get even more interesting than it already is.

Like I said, dark days is a very apt title. Dark days, indeed. And they’re probably going to get a lot darker.

***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***

Davina Marr is the most horrid, despicable being on earth and deserves a slow and painful death a hundred times over. Myron Stray wasn’t a very nice man, but nobody deserves to endure what he did. Except Davina Marr. Actually she should be kept in a time loop, reliving his last 72 hours forever.

And thank you so much, China, for killing that moron Remus Crux.

Valkyrie is Darquesse. Or… will become Darquesse at one point. I’m curious how they’ll get out of that one. If they do at all.

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Skulduggery Pleasant (#3): The Faceless Ones – Derek Landy

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5 stars out of 5

Once again a few new characters, all of them very well-written. I wanted to kill Remus Crux practically instantly after having “met” him for the first time, but Finbar Wrong is probably one of the best characters ever written. (Even if he doesn’t have much “screen time”, so to say.)

Fletcher Renn is incredibly irritating at first, but he gets better towards the end.

Solomon Wreath is intriguing. I wonder what he really wants to gain. I’m not buying that altruistic reasoning for a second.

But seriously: If Thurid Guild and Remus Crux are supposed to be “good guys” (and the Grand Mage is supposed to be a good guy), I’ll stay with the bad ones. What a pair of jerks!

The scene in the “pretend house” beneath Gordon’s actual house was absolutely terrifying. I loved it!

There’s a very, very nice twist at the end! I’m usually good at spotting things like this, but I didn’t see that one coming. Clever.

Will we ever get to learn more about Skulduggery’s past? Kenspeckle Grouse seems to really despise him, and I’m curious as to why.

It’s starting to get a liiiittle bit “romance-y”, but so far it’s all veeeery low-key and pretty much non-existent, so I can live with it – for now.

A great book, but not for children, I think. Melting eyes, adhering lips and bodies turning inside out are hard even on me, and I’m an adult (at least age-wise).

***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***

I can’t believe they killed Mr. Bliss!! *wails* Our only hope of getting rid of that stupid Grand Mage Thurid Guild!!

And seriously: can’t Stephanie see that the reflection might become a problem? I know she has a lot on her plate, but she can’t be that stupid, right?

Paddy being Batu was just… wow! I never suspected him for a second! I mean, yeah, I knew something was a little off about him when he started this kind of “philosophical discussion” with Stephanie, but I just thought he’ll turn out to be a sorcerer in the end. Or he’ll have some magic, but nothing “spectacular” or something. Huh. I guess his tactic worked better than anybody thought, if even the readers were fooled. Hats off to Derek Landy!

Skulduggery Pleasant (#2): Playing With Fire – Derek Landy

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5 stars out of 5

I don’t know what it says about me, but for some reason I can relate more to the “bad guys” than the heroes. (With the exception of Vaurian Scapegrace. Christ, what an idiot!) I usually like them better, too. Especially Springheeled Jack. I mean, I could totally do without the killing-innocent-people thing, but both attitude- and humour-wise they’re really charming. (Yeah, I know, I’m weird. I’m reading a book about a skeleton detective. Are you really surprised?)
At least the straight-forward ones. I absolutely hate Thurid Guild and everybody from the so-called Sanctuary (ha!). Mostly because they’re arrogant, stupid, unreasonable and completely unable to actually listen. Plus, they think they know everything better. This combined with their other character traits makes them all utterly despicable.
The really evil ones (and the heroes, too, I suppose) chose a side, and chose it clearly. They don’t try to hide that fact or bully someone with “regulations” and “laws” and whatnot. They just want to kill you, and you always know where you stand with them. Those Sanctuary guys are slimy little weasels who got it all horribly wrong, but are too vain, dumb and/or rigid to admit their mistakes and learn from them. I really hate people like that.

Anyway.

A very good read. Again.

I still love Stephanie’s parents (especially her father), because they’re so decidedly normal, yet totally weird in an utterly adorable way. Sometimes I wish they knew what was going on with their daughter, sometimes I wish they’ll never find out.

Still no love stories. Yay!

The ending was a tad too dramatic for my liking, and I found the “Stephanie-saves-the-day”-thing a bit… irritating, but well. She is the main character. Still. I hope she won’t turn out to be yet another “Super-Mercy”, like the main character in a different book series. Let’s see.

***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***

I’m curious about the consequences of shooting Stephanie’s reflection. I mean, yes, the reflection isn’t suppose to feel things, but it had been made very clear that, since Stephanie uses it every day, it seemed to have changed quite a bit. Like, gaining more self-awareness, leading an independent life, parallel to Stephanie’s, or the “memory transfer” that’s not complete. Sure, there are maybe about a few seconds missing, but it’s still not like it should be. And, of course, since Stephanie is Stephanie she doesn’t tell anyone about it, but I really think this reflection business will come back to bite her in the arse. Big time.

Skulduggery Pleasant (#1) – Derek Landy

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5 Stars out of 5

In short: Still one of the best books I’ve ever read. (And that’s not only because of the walking, talking skeleton – but seriously, HOW COOL IS THAT??? OMG!!!!) I’ll try to write a full review in a few days (hopefully), but right now this will have to do.

Okay. And now for something a little more coherent…

Then again… I’m still a bit hung up on the thought if Derek Landy knows me personally somehow. Like, did we go to the same school and I forgot all about it, or some such. (Well, obviously not, because completely different countries and stuff. – But we were born in the same year, so that would check out… Anyway.) Because that book seems to have been written for me. I mean, a “living” skeleton who works as a detective!? Come on! I have loved skeletons (for whatever reasons) since I can remember, and I usually read only crime stories.

I was still a bit… hesitant, because Fantasy just isn’t my genre anymore (save for a very few exceptions), but well… You can’t find new authors you like, if you don’t try to read anything written by them, right? (And it helped that I’ve already read the German translation of this book, like, two years ago or so, I just haven’t written a review for some reasons. But I’ve been hesitant back then, too, so there.)

And the risk was absolutely worth it.

Stephanie Edgley, our heroine, is a twelve year old girl, and probably a bit too “old” for her age, but Derek Landy manages to not turn her into an obnoxious, annoying, knowing-it-all brat who succeeds in  everything immediately, but a likable, down-to-earth (despite all the magic stuff) character who has to learn a lot, and is at times very insensible and extremely persistent, but never annoyingly so. At least not to me, and I’m easily annoyed.

Skulduggery Pleasant has a pretty dry sense of humour, is far from perfect and not everything he plans goes exactly according to said plan, but he always pulls through in the end. Plus, he really does his best to not get Stephanie killed. Or harmed. In his line of work that sometimes can’t be helped, though, and since Stephanie had insisted on becoming his apprentice,… Well, there you are.

This book has a lot of likable characters in any case. Even the evil ones are not all unlikable. And there are some… “shady” characters you don’t know what to make of yet. Like China Sorrows or Mister Bliss.

The case itself is pretty straight-forward, and they manage to solve it. Which means: this adventure is completed and can be read as a stand-alone.
So in case you wanted to give this book a try, don’t like it and don’t want to read any of the following stories, you’re not left with a cliffhanger or unanswered questions.

Also: Derek Landy is obviously a master in naming characters. Everybody who can come up with names like Nefarian Serpine, Vaurian Scapegrace, Kenspeckle Grouse or Ghastly Bespoke deserves a reward. (Oh wait…)

The absolute best thing in there? No romance! No far-fetched, incomprehensible, cringe-worthy love story! Between none of the characters! Yay!
But then, Stephanie’s only twelve years old in the first book, and I’m sure she’ll age through the following nine parts, so I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to dodge that particular bullet, but I hold out a little hope that the author might be able to write it in a way that I don’t want to burn the book and never want to have anything to do with this series ever again.

I also like that there are vampires in this book, and they don’t sparkle in the sun or look sexy!

I’m not sure whether this is a children’s book, though. I mean, it will probably depend on the child’s age, but if you’re a parent and want to be on the safe side: read it first! There’s some pretty dark stuff in it, and from what I’ve heard already it’s getting darker from here on out. (I mean, the whole setting is kind of a clue, but if you’re expecting something like Sonja Kaiblinger’s “Scary Harry” books: they’re nothing like that!)