Skulduggery Pleasant will rattle your bones

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy; published by HarperCollins, Ney York, 2007; 391 pages.

Get ready for a ghastly good time!  Derek Landy’s story of good-guy detective Skulduggery Pleasant will rattle your bones with laughter and spine-tingling adventure.  This well-balanced story combines humor and horror to tell a tale of myth, magic and mortality.  Stephanie Edgely’s uncle has died, a seemingly natural death for a mortal, and has left her the bulk of his fortune: a beautiful home, a wealth of royalties from his best-selling books, and a menacing secret.  His long-time friend, Skulduggery Pleasant, befriends Stephanie, involving her in the ethereal world of magic and menace that lies just behind the façade of normal human life.  Together they take on the forces of evil that are attempting to take over the world once again.  Although only 12 years old, we discover that Stephanie might be one of the Ancients, and she proves herself a worthy partner for Skulduggery as they defeat the megalomaniacal Nefarian Serpine and his otherworldly army.

For lovers of Ohio’s own R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, this book offers a natural transition to stories with better developed plots and characters.  Of course the heroine in the story, Stephanie, is fleshed out, but Landy surprises us by fully developing the character of the skeletal detective, Skulduggery Pleasant.  Reluctant readers, no matter their gender, will find the story easy to read and quite engrossing.

For me, the character’s aliases, like Nefarian Serpine, Sagacious Tome, Ghastly Bespoke, and Stephanie’s alias, Valkyrie Cain, were a highlight of the story.  Of course, given my future line of work, I was quite pleased that the exquisitely beautiful China Sorrows is a librarian.  I envision a book club in a middle school library in which the School Library Media Specialist asks the group what these names might mean and what name each student would select as his or her alias.  Or maybe we plan the cast of the movie version.  My bones rattle with suppressed giggles as I think of their answers….

4P     3Q     Grades 6-8

skulduggeryCover Art: Ghastly green, Halloween-ish title on a background with a graphic novel feel, this cover will appeal to most middle schoolers, especially the R.L. Stine fans.  The green text really stands out on the spine.  My daughter begged me to finish quickly so she could read it simply based on the cover art; when she read the jacket summary, she was even more impatient.

 From Reading List: “On the Edge of Your Seat (Mystery, Suspense, or Thriller)”

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