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!)