Jazzy Reviews: ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’
I will never be reading these books, the covers alone terrify me, so I’m very pleased Jazzy has tackled these. Jazzy also takes a close look at the age recommendations on them, something I’ve often wondered about myself, given the level of violence. Most young readers, like Jazzy, would say that the violence is in context and an intergral part of the plot – and they love that Derek Landy doesn’t ‘tone it down’ for his young fans. These are some of the most popular books at school – they are NEVER on the shelves, so again let me say…pleased you reviewed these ones Jazzy and not me! You can read Jazzy’s complete bio here, see her blog homepage here and ‘like’ her Facebook page, managed by her mum, here. You can see all Jazzy’s other reviews for Children’s Books Daily by searching her name in the search box above.
“What do you want?” she said to the darkness. “Why do you want to come in?”
“It’s got nothing to do with me, girlie. I’ve just been sent to pick something up. Let me in. I’ll look around, get what I came for and leave. I won’t harm a pretty little hair on your pretty little head, I promise. Now you just open that door right this second.”
And so began my obsession with ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’. Today, I’ll take you back to where it all began with book one…
Stephanie Edgely is your average 12-year-old girl, or at least she was until the day she met a walking, talking skeleton named Skulduggery Pleasant. He can do magic. She jumps at the chance to team up with him to solve her uncle’s murder (somehow he mysteriously turned to dust). Stephanie understands that only certain people can do magic, but she begs Skulduggery to try and teach her on the off-chance that she is one of them.
In ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’, written by Derek Landy, there are many types of magic. There’s Elemental, which is magic of the four elements; water, fire, air and the earth. Water is to do with density, fire can be thrown, air can be changed or pushed and earth can save you from death. Another type of sorcery is Necromancy – death magic. You can use the shadows to defend yourself. Lastly, there’s Adept, which covers other kinds of magic like teleportation. Stephanie’s friend Tanith Low is an Adept – she can walk on walls and roofs. She can also unlock anything.
Stephanie may be inexperienced at fighting and combat, but she helps Skulduggery and those on his side. There are some really great lessons in Book One, such as ‘never judge a book by its cover’. A man called Ghastly Bespoke looks… Ghastly, as his face is covered in hideous scars. He is sneered at and teased by others, but his friends know that he is kind and brave. At first Ghastly doesn’t like Skulduggery tagging Stephanie along, but he learns to appreciate her.
One of Stephanie’s pet hates is the way non-magic people are called ‘mortals’. Sure, magic makes sorcerers live longer, but it doesn’t make them im-mortal!
The very concept of names is very important to all the Skulduggery Pleasant stories. At birth you have a ‘given’ name. If a mage knows your given name then they can control you, like a robot. There’s your ‘taken’ name as well, which is the name you choose to cover up your given name. Then there’s your ‘true’ name, which Skulduggery says can be dangerous because it will gives too much power.
Skulduggery Pleasant has a very interesting story behind him. He was a living man but once he saw his wife and son killed before his eyes by the evil Serpine, he reached for a dagger. This dagger was dipped in poison so he died. He used his magic to come back alive as a skeleton.
A warning: ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ is violent and some people who have just started reading it may be surprised. People explode and there are tons of deaths. Because of this I recommend this book to kids aged 9+.
The other books vary in age recommendations by the publisher which I don’t agree with; numbers seven to nine should definitely not be 11+. The later stories include a massive war and also horrifying descriptions. In one part people’s eyes are taken out. Their ears and lips are cut off and their hair is torn out in clumps. Despite all of this, I love these stories because they are funny and have great storylines. They are very unpredictable, too.
For more Skulduggery Pleasant goodies, check out two of my previous blogs: Hooked on Skulduggery Pleasant and Vile Villain Series – Skulduggery Pleasant Nasties
‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ is a brilliant read, but it’s not as good as the later stories. I give it four-and-a-half bookbolts out of five.
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books