Screenwriter Derek Landy has written a book destined to be a blockbuster family movie with enormous promotional and marketing tie-ins and global appeal. It delivers just the right amount of witty dialogue, sarcasm and humor --- mixed with equal portions of fright, horror and imagery --- to keep children laughing and cringing from one page to the next. Adults also will be reading this book long after the wee ones have gone to bed.
SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT tells the story of 12-year-old Stephanie Edgley, whose recently deceased uncle was a writer of fictional horror books and perhaps her closest friend. When his will is read, she learns --- much to the bother of others present --- that she is the new owner of his expensive villa. At the same time she meets the most bizarre of characters: a sly and witty detective named Skulduggery Pleasant. His investigative skills, acid tongue and dapper dressing are only outdone by the fact that he is no longer living and a skeleton.
Skulduggery’s involvement with Stephanie comes to life, so to speak, when she discovers that her uncle’s writings were more than just scary fiction; they were a prediction of reality to come. Together they must stop a dark and evil force from recovering a hidden key and bringing an end to life on earth. Both Stephanie and Skulduggery have unusual and effective talents as well as weaknesses. Perhaps the most interesting weakness for Skulduggery is his absolute hatred and fear of being tortured. It goes to show that even skeletons have feelings.
SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT is a wonderful story that works on so many levels and will appeal to everyone. The dialogue between Skulduggery and Stephanie is dead-on and biting. It’s how adults wish they could speak if only their minds could think quickly enough. There are a few brief sentences in the book that seem a bit risqué for young audiences, but the descriptive language likely will be lost on children while drawing a smile from adult readers. Although a bit frightening for reading a little one to bed, there is no doubt that older elementary school children will be jamming this book into their Skulduggery backpacks as they head back to school in the fall.
Reviewed by Simon King on April 3, 2007
- Publication Date: April 3, 2007
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins
- ISBN-10: 0061231150
- ISBN-13: 9780061231155