Bedlam (Skulduggery Pleasant #12) Review

Bedlam (Skulduggery Pleasant, #12)

Book: Bedlam (Skulduggery Pleasant #12)

Author: Derek Landy

Bechdel Test: PASS-Valkyrie has several conversations with China, Tanith and Kes that are not about men.

I actually don’t have many books to read to prep for YALC this year, as there are very few authors I want to see, but this was one of them. I went to a signing with Derek back at the beginning of June and said that it usually took me two weeks to finish his books, which in fairness, it did, I started this one on the 13th June and finished it on the 27th! I have to admit, it’s taken a while for the latest phase of Skulduggery Pleasant books to really settle in for me, the first two books were very so-so for me, they didn’t feel much like the first phase of the series, but this book feels like a return to form for Derek Landy, now that the messy set up phase of this half of the series is over, we can dive back in at full speed ahead with many exciting reveals that I can’t wait for the rest of the series to explore. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The 12th explosive novel in the internationally bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series, BEDLAM will blow your mind – and change everything…

On a desperate journey to recover her sister’s lost soul, Valkyrie Cain goes up against the High Sanctuary itself, and there’s nothing Skulduggery Pleasant can do to stop her.
 
With Abyssinia’s grand plan about to kick off in a night of magic, terror, and bloodshed, it falls to Omen Darkly to save the lives of thousands of innocent people. 

And as the madness unfolds around him, as hidden enemies step into the light, and as Valkyrie is sucked into a desperate, lawless quest of her own, he has no choice but to become the hero he never really wanted to be — or die in the attempt.

So this book marks the end of the Abyssinia arc, as it seems this series will follow the same pattern of a mini arc per trilogy of books and I have to say, I’m not all that sorry to see the back of Abyssinia. This book couldn’t decide whether Val and Skulduggery were meant to be helping Abyssinia or fighting her and honestly, I just still don’t find her a convincing villain, I’m far more intrigued as to what Crepuscular might do, as we don’t quite know what his motives are yet and he seems to have more potential as a villain. It’s a shame because I feel like Abyssinia could have had potential, but Landy just couldn’t decide what to do with her.

The pacing was much better in this one than in Midnight, I will say that I did still find elements confusing, there’s a lot of switching between different character POVs and a lot of different plotlines, but overall, the plot felt far more coherent in this one than it did in Midnight and despite being a much longer book, the pacing was far better, though it probably still could have used a bit being trimmed of the page length! The chapters were also a nice length as well, I love that Derek Landy tends to stick to quite short chapters as that’s what I tend to prefer! The ending chapters in particular felt incredibly rushed and I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.

I appreciate that Derek Landy is making an attempt to make this phase of the series more diverse than the last phase, with success more in some areas than others. The mental health representation with Valkyrie is wonderful, her PTSD definitely isn’t glossed over and it’s something that she acknowledges that she needs help with, which I hope we get to see in later books.

The LGBTQ+ rep is decent and the conversations Val has about her sexuality felt realistic, and I really enjoyed her coming out to her parents. I will say that there were some phrasings that I felt were ill advised (particularly a bit where one of the characters says “all sorcerers turn bi eventually”) and could potentially have used some sensitivity reading? I don’t know if this book had sensitivity readers or not, but there were a couple of sentences about LGBTQ+ people that made me a little uncomfortable (bear in mind that I am an allocishet woman so I don’t know if what made me feel uncomfortable would be the same for LGBTQ+ readers, I just wanted to point it out in case it did) and could have used some tweaking.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually realise that Miltisa and Val were dating before this book, it came off as kind of sudden for me. I mean I’m happy because I think Miltisa is great and there were definitely hints of the two getting closer in the first two books, but I just think the transition to them being girlfriends could have been handled a little less clunkily?

It was nice to see Skulduggery and Valkyrie somewhat back to their old partnership in this book. There’s still some awkwardness and it’s clear that they’re still learning to be around each other again, after a while away, but their classic banter comes more to the fore in this book, which was lovely to see, the humour in this book felt much more akin to phase one that the previous two, which I loved. I will say that Skulduggery still seems to be being under-utilised in this series, and I hope we get to see more of him in the next book.

I still don’t really understand the point of Flanery, I don’t think that this series needed a Trump-a-like, and although his storyline serves more of a purpose in this book than it has done previously, I still feel like he’s not really needed? I’m only really interested in Flanery in terms of what Crepuscular is using him for as I feel like there’s still a greater story to be explored there. I also don’t really get the whole point of the Sebastian finding Darquesse plot is because I don’t feel that she needs to come back and of all the plots in this book, that one is the one that really doesn’t fit and I think the book would have been stronger without it.

I liked Omen’s plotline a lot more in this book than I have in the previous two, his storyline felt more tied into the narrative this time than it has done in the past and I feel like he became much more a part of the team in this book which I liked. It is nice to have a sorcerer in these books that’s just kind of average, rather than super-powered as so many of the others seem to be. He has quite an awkward relationship with both Val and Skulduggery, which is quite humourous and he and Skulduggery have a particularly great conversation in this which shows some potential for mentorship later on in the series.

It was really great to see Tanith back, Val doesn’t have all that many female friends, so it’s nice to see her interact with other women and I definitely think her, Tanith and Militsa have the potential to be a great group from their few interactions in this book.

The actual asylum portions of the book that the book gets it’s title from were incredibly difficult to read. I get the point of showing Val’s increasing guilt, but I’m not sure that asylum was the way to do that, having her confronted by the ghosts of people whose deaths she feels responsible for is a good idea, but I don’t think it needed to take place in the asylum setting. I also didn’t like some of the weird formatting that crept into these chapters.

Val’s new skills are interesting but I feel like it’s getting kind of overkill, she can see auras, throw lightning, heal herself, manipulate auras, the list goes on and whilst it’s cool that she can do all of these things, I feel like it makes it too easy sometimes, like whatever tough spot she’s in, oh it’s cool, she has the exact right power to get out of it? It is explained in the book why (though I can’t say due to spoilery reasons) and it makes sense, but making her have so many different types of powers, just seems like a lazy fix to get her out of whatever dangerous situation she’s been thrown in and I kind of preferred it in the first phase of the series, when she didn’t always have the exact right skills for the situation.

There are A LOT of great reveals in this book that could make for some really interesting plots in future books, most of which I can’t talk about because SPOILERS, but for the first time, I’m feeling really excited about what’s going to happen in the next book, especially because the spark from Phase One seems to have finally returned.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, it felt like a return to form for Skulduggery and co., with lots of exciting adventures, interesting reveals and great character development for both old and new characters and I really think the next couple of books could be absolute standouts taking the plot from this one forward….if they’re done well that is.

My Rating: 4/5

My next review will probably be an e-ARC review, of Ever Alice, by HJ Ramsay which will be around the book’s publication at the end of July.

Midnight (Skulduggery Pleasant #11) Review

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Book: Midnight (Skulduggery Pleasant #11)

Author: Derek Landy

It’s no secret by now how much I love the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and the level of excitement I had for Phase 2 of the series was intense. I have to say though, it has yet to really hit its stride. Resurrection was mostly set up for the new series, which was to be expected, as the first book in this new phase of the series. Midnight is still on kind of shaky ground, I can see the potential for amazing books in the rest of the series, but there’s still some….well let’s call them teething issues to work through. First of all, the first and second halves of this book kind of felt like two different stories, which did make sense when I read the afterword, but I still kind of felt like they didn’t really fit together. For the first half, we have all these refugees coming from Mevolent’s world and the second half is all about Alice being kidnapped. Both are great plotlines on their own, but together? Yeah they don’t really work all that well. I think this second phase of the series is still finding its feet, and whilst I have high hopes for the rest of the series, this book wasn’t as good as I was hoping. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are back in their most gripping story yet, as book 11, Midnight, picks up where Resurrection left off – and runs.

For years, Valkyrie Cain has struggled to keep her loved ones safe from harm, plunging into battle — time and time again — by Skulduggery Pleasant’s side, and always emerging triumphant.

But now the very thing that Valkyrie fights for is in danger, as a ruthless killer snatches her little sister in order to lure Valkyrie into a final confrontation. With Skulduggery racing to catch up and young sorcerer Omen scrambling along behind, Valkyrie only has twelve hours to find Alice before it’s too late.
The clock is ticking…

First off I kind of have to talk about the pacing, because that was definitely the biggest issue in this book. The first half plods along at a rather leisurely pace and then the second half goes at breakneck speed, so fast that you don’t really have time to consider what’s going on. I’m not sure if I’ve ever said any of Derek Landy’s books have pacing issues before, but they were glaringly obvious in this book. Also as I talked about, the two halves didn’t really fit together very well, the first and second half felt like they were part of different stories, which did make sense when Derek Landy explained how much he’d had to chop and change Midnight after Resurrection’s publication in the afterword, but at the same time it was kind of jarring.

There were also way too many subplots in the first half of the book, between the refugees from Mavolent’s world, Abysinnia’s secret child, Sebastain the plague doctor, it was really hard to keep track of what was happening and it felt like some of the things were just there to set up for future books rather than actually adding anything to this particular story.

The chapters lengths were good though, the one thing Derek Landy always does well is keep the chapters to a relatively short length, honestly they were the saving grace with all the pacing problems in this book, I was still managing to get through the story despite the fact that I wasn’t totally engaged with what was going on because the chapters kept ticking along. The book itself however was definitely overly long given that the main part only really happened in the last 40 odd chapters of the book, the entire opening could probably have been cut without losing anything.

The Skulduggery/Valkyrie dynamic is the cornerstone of this series and they’re split apart for most of this book. I do love getting to see the character that Valkyrie has grown into because I like I said in my review for Resurrection, I like her a lot more now she’s grown up, she still has the sarcastic sense of humour which makes for such a great dynamic with Skulduggery, but she’s more mature, less certain, less arrogant now and that makes it much easier to root for her. Whilst Skulduggery and Valkyrie being apart does give Valkyrie the chance for lots of action hero moments of her own, it feels somewhat like the life of the series has been sucked out? The friendship between Val and Skulduggery added some warmth, light and humour to the series and that felt like it was lacking here. It also feels like Skulduggery has been somewhat pushed to the side, which was a shame given that he’s my favourite character.

It was lovely to see Skulduggery finally getting to meet Valkyrie’s family-it’s something I’ve been waiting for for a long time and it did not disappoint. Desmond in particular was ridiculously hilarious, asking lots of stupid questions about magic.

The Omen subplots were kind of dull, I enjoyed him in the last book, but in this book I didn’t really see much point to his character being there, because he just didn’t add anything to the story. I’m hoping that in the next book, he’s given more to do, because I do like him, I just didn’t think his character was actually needed in this particular book.

Valkyrie’s new sensitive powers are quite interesting and whilst I don’t love Derek Landy doing the whole “special snowflake, first of her kind” thing with her, I think there’s a lot of potential with these new powers and I can’t wait to see how she develops into these new powers-Valkyrie growing into her magic was one of the most interesting parts of phase 1 of the series, so it would be great to see something similar here.

I said I wasn’t keen about the remnant of Darquesse in the first book, but I actually enjoyed her more here, it’s an interesting dynamic she and Valkyrie have and whilst I still hope that Darquesse herself isn’t brought back fully, I think that having Kes around could be interesting for future instalments.

I didn’t really understand the point of Sebastian the plague doctor in this book, I’m hoping that his storyline gels more with the rest of the story in future books.

There were some good discussions of consent in this book, which was nice to see-it’s definitely something that needs to be talked about more in YA.

The Flanery subplots didn’t really fit well with the story either, again that made sense when I read the afterword, as Flanery was initially meant to have a much bigger role and was toned down after Trump was elected, but he’s still kind of annoying and I don’t really see his role in the story.

I think one of the major problems with this arc is that a compelling villain hasn’t really appeared yet. Flanery is simply a caricature, Cadaverous is slightly more menacing, but still not great and Abysinnia has yet to really do anything to cement her villain status. I’m slightly disappointed that Landy, who brought us Mevolent, Serpine, Lord Vile and Darquesse hasn’t been able to come up with a better villain for this series, but I’m willing to give Abysinnia the benefit of the doubt that we are building up to her really evil moment.

There were some big reveals at the end that gives me hope for the rest of the series, but at the moment, Phase 2 has definitely been lacking the same spark that Phase 1 had. The trademark Landy dialogue and humour is still there, but it feels like the story is lacking…..well apologies for a slightly spoiler here, but you won’t understand it till you read the book anyway, soul. I’m hoping that this is just teething problems and the books will get better from here on out, because I really don’t want this second era of Skulduggery Pleasant to ruin the first one for me!

My Rating: 3/5

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Valkyrie has several conversations with other female characters (Reverie, Militsa, China, Hannah) that do not revolve around men.

My next review will be of Night of Cake and Puppets, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella, which will be coming for you very soon as I have already finished it!

Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant #10) Review

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Book: Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant #10)

Author: Derek Landy

So I was naturally, super excited when I found out at last year’s YALC that Derek Landy was going to be writing a new book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series (he refers to it as Skulduggery Phase 2, which indicates that there might be more new books, so yay for that!), as it is one of my favourite fantasy series, and one of the staples of my teen years. But with that excitement, of course, comes no small amount of trepidation. It’s been three years since the last Skulduggery book and five years in the lives of the characters, you have to wonder if you can fall back in where you left off. Well the answer is yes…..and no. Some things remain the same, the dry, sarcastic humour is back and in full force, Skulduggery is as wonderful as ever. However the new book definitely feels more mature than the original series, understandably so as Valkyrie is older, and it took me a while longer to get into it than the original books, I’m not sure if the plot was as tight as some of the original books had been. Still it was an enjoyable reintroduction back into the world of Skulduggery Pleasant, and hopefully one of many more! Here is a short synopsis of it:

The skeleton detective is coming back to life…again! It’s the tenth, triumphant novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and it will rearrange your world. Skulduggery and Valkyrie are back in the tenth instalment in the bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series – an incredible and unexpected treat for the legions of fans around the world. We can’t say much but we can say this: Skulduggery and Valkyrie are going to team up with beloved characters from the first 9 books as well as an all-new cast, including new teen co-star Omen Darkly, for an adventure that takes the story to truly global proportions…while answering questions that go right back to the beginning. And Derek says this: “I was halfway through Last Stand of Dead Men, I think, when I realised that I had more stories to tell. I told myself that if Skulduggery and Valkyrie survived the series, I would leave the option open of returning to their world. There were still secrets I need to reveal, after all, and there were still horrors they had to face. They survived the first series. But they’re really going to wish they hadn’t.”

Firstly I would recommend going back and reading the last Skulduggery book before going into this, there are a lot of characters to remember and honestly there were some characters from the previous books that I couldn’t even remember who play a pretty major role in this book, so I would definitely recommend reading nine before this to give yourselves a bit of a refresher!

First off, the humour, as always was on point! It’s actually really hard to add humour into books, I have tried, but it’s so difficult for it not to seem forced. I am honestly in awe at the ease of which Derek Landy writes humour, it never seems forced, it’s always natural and is so much a part of the style of these books, so it was nice to see that continue in this book and helped a lot to balance some of the darker moments.

Skulduggery is still as amazing as ever and we even got another glimpse of Evil Skulduggery in this book, which I liked as we don’t really get to see his dark side particularly often. I would say though that the book focuses much more on Valkyrie and Skulduggery definitely takes more of a back seat. That was one of the things that I missed in this book, there wasn’t so much of them working together, which is obviously the main highlight of the books, so that was a shame.

I actually liked Valkyrie a lot more in these books? This new, mature, broken, reluctant hero Valkyrie was a lot easier for me to get on board with than the arrogant, I am the best hero Valkyrie of the previous books. Naturally everything that Darquesse did in Dying of The Light was going to have an effect on her and I was glad to see this explored throughout the book, especially because PTSD is not something you see very often. I didn’t love that Derek’s still trying to make her out to be the specialist special to special in the magical community, like okay she has this white lightning, that was pretty cool, but she has to be a Sensitive too?

The world has changed so much in the time that Val’s been away, and whilst I get that it’s showing Val’s sense of isolation, it does seem a little implausible that so much changed in the five years she was away as compared to the time she was part of the magical community. Still I did like all this extra world building, I liked getting to see how Roarhaven had expanded and changed, I liked the addition of the magic school, Corrival Academy, that felt like a natural thing to have, I liked getting to see some new magical disciplines. It was an awful lot to take in though, all at once!

The plot was for the most part quite slow paced and it did get a little confusing at times. I don’t know, the new villains just didn’t feel quite scary enough for me, there were chapters that didn’t seem to really contribute anything to the overall plot (like all the chapters with Sebastian and Bennet, what the hell were they about?) and I’m still not entirely sure of what exactly a Neoteric is! Still there were some decent fight scenes and once I actually got into the book, I did find myself enjoying it, I was just confused at times! There were a lot of things added that I felt like we should have heard about before, like if Abysinnia (the new Big Bad) is so evil, why haven’t we heard about her before? And the whole Neoteric thing, shouldn’t we have heard about that before? I get that this is the start of a new series, but the whole set up seemed a bit clunky.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Omen at first, after all, he’s not one of our old friends who we’ve grown to know and love, but I really enjoyed his arc. He’s not the chosen one, he’s not special, he’s the Chosen One’s brother and doesn’t really know his place in the world and it was great to see him explore this throughout Resurrection and come to see that he doesn’t need to be The Chosen One to be special, to make a contribution, he can do that as Omen Darkly.

I was so glad that the chapter numbering in this book was consistent, Derek Landy always used to do this really annoying thing in the original Skulduggery series where some of the chapters were named and some were numbered, and I was so happy that in this book it was consistent numbers! The chapter lengths were all pretty decent, although I suppose I will just have to accept that the one page, one paragraph, one line chapters are here to stay! I also loved the title, so accurate for this book, not only with it being the start of a new era of Skulduggery, but with the story itself as well.

I would have liked to have seen more of the old characters from the original series back in this book, it was great to see Val and Skulduggery again, but aside from China, everyone else seemed to be new. I missed the Dead Men, I missed Scapegrace and Thrasher, I missed Tanith, so I hope more of them will be back in future books, if Landy does in fact continue this as a series.

The representation in this book was definitely better than in the original Skulduggery Pleasant series, you have Never who is gender fluid, you have two new gay characters, and Val’s suffering from PTSD, I hope this trend continues into the next books.

There were a few digs at Donald Trump, in the form of Landy’s parody character Martin Flanery and whilst this was humourous, I didn’t quite see the point? Like this character added literally nothing to the plot.

I loved that Valkyrie has a dog, Xena seemed so cute and more books should have dogs!

It was nice to meet a good necromancer with Militsa, she was sweet and I hope to see her and Valkyrie’s friendship grow in the next books.

I wasn’t so keen about the whole remnant of Darquesse thing? I get that it’s meant to represent Valkyrie’s guilt and everything but there were a lot of hints throughout the book that Landy might be bringing her back and I hope that’s not true because her arc was pretty neatly tied up at the end of the original series.

It felt like the climax was somewhat rushed, but that could have been because of the slow pace of the start of the book. The last 10 or so chapters were definitely my favourites of the whole book, Val and Skulduggery get some great moments, some weird spoilery stuff goes down (I literally can’t say more than that, all I can say is that it’s some of the weirdest stuff Landy has ever written) and the action is thick and fast. There was a massive twist at the end which I did not see coming at all. Still everything resolved in a really satisfying way and the last chapter really felt like the start of a new era.

Overall, this was a decent start to a new era of Skulduggery, whilst the plot wasn’t the easiest to follow, I loved Valkyrie’s character arc, Skulduggery will never not be amazing and I enjoyed the new characters for the most part. I’m hoping that the plot will be more streamlined, in future books and we get to see more of our old favourites, assuming that there are more books, which it seems like there will be as the whole book feels like set up for more. I did feel like this book left me wanting more though? I seriously hope there is more to this new phase of Skulduggery because there are way too many loose ends not to be!

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of the latest book in Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season series, The Song Rising.

 

 

 

 

Skulduggery Pleasant 9: The Dying of The Light Review

Book: The Dying Of The Light (Skulduggery Pleasant 9)

Author: Derek Landy

This year is a bit of a sad year for me in terms of books, as two book series that I have loved for years came to an end, Percy Jackson and Skulduggery Pleasant. I was very disappointed in how the final Percy Jackson book turned out, so I was hoping for big things from the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, this is a series I have loved since I was 12 years old, so I really wanted it to go out with a bang. I was, thankfully not disappointed.

I was a little confused when the book started, as it started with a new character I had never seen before, but as soon as it got back to Skulduggery and Stephanie, I was engrossed. I did find myself having to remind myself of things that happened in previous books throughout, but that’s mainly because it’s been a while since I read all the other books.

So basically this entire story follows Skulduggery, Stephanie and Valkyrie as they try to defeat Darquesse. The beginning of the book is a little slow, but it really picks up around the middle and from that moment on, it doesn’t really let go. I wasn’t all that interested in the subplot with Danny and Valkyrie, which takes place years after the war is over, it was good to see how it affected her, but I didn’t like the jumping around the timeline. I just wanted to see Skulduggery and co in the present, without having to jump away to see all these new characters in the future, although there were some good fight scenes in that subplot, and it did pick up a little more towards the end. I also wish it had tied into the main plot more. I found it quite funny, that Valkyrie basically went off and did everything she told Stephanie to do when she told her to go away.

I didn’t like some of the layout in this book, some chapters just ended midsentence and then the sentence picked back up but it was the start of the new chapter, that was kind of annoying and I wish he would have named all the chapters, they only have names up to chapter 70 and then suddenly it’s just numbers.

Darquesse was incredible, she’s such a complex, well developed character and a truly terrifying villian. I liked how Derek Landy showed her compassionate side in this book (sounds strange when talking about a villian who wants to destroy the world, I know) in moments like when she healed Tanith after removing the remnant from her and when she almost decided to be good when they removed Valkyrie from her and she was pretending to be her. Also it was really difficult for them to defeat her, which I loved, because in Percy Jackson they only spent a few chapters defeating Gaia whereas here, they spend the entire book trying to figure out a way to defeat Darquesse. I was happy that she got what she wanted in the end, but that she didn’t actually destroy the world (this part’s kind of complicated, you have to read it to understand). It was great to have some chapters in her perspective because it showed how twisted her thoughts were and how creepy her view on death is (that you don’t die, you are simply turned into energy).

One of my gripes with Blood Of Olympus was that Rick Riordan didn’t really kill enough people in it considering they were in a war but that was no problem here, Derek Landy was killing off people, left, right and centre, the saddest being Stephanie (Valkyrie’s reflection). That scene was so heartbreaking, that she was so helpless in the end. I actually predicted who Darquesse was going to be in the end(after she was forced out of Valkyrie) but I won’t reveal it here, so that if you read it you will be surprised but it was good the way Landy did it, I doubted my prediction for a while. I found myself being sad even when characters who were originally villains died because they came over to the good side, in this book, pretty well everyone seems to be fighting on Skulduggery’s side. If I had one gripe, it would be that the death scenes were sometimes a little gruesome for my taste, I mean I don’t mind a little blood and ogre but sometimes Landy seems to take it a step too far.

I liked that we got a little more about Skulduggery’s family in this book, but I wish we’d been given the names of his wife and child, it might be a little thing but it’s something I’ve always wanted.

It still kind of bugged me that Stephanie and Fletcher were in a relationship, because although she and Valkyrie were completely different once she stopped being her reflection, it still seems kind of strange that he dated his ex-girlfriend’s former reflection. Having said that, they were cute and I felt really bad for Fletcher when Steph died.

I liked that in this book Valkyrie’s parents finally learned about her magic in this book, I have been waiting for that for a long time and I thought it was done really well. Their reactions were exactly what I expected from them. I want to take this moment to say just how much I love Desmond Edgley. He’s not a major character, but he never fails to make me smile. I also liked that they had a bigger part in this final book than they have done previously.

It was also great that whether Valkyrie would end up as a Necromancer or an Elemental was finally answered. I was hoping she would go through her Surge and we would find out what type of magic she had by the  end of the book, but I wasn’t expecting it to since she’s only 18 and most of them don’t go through their Surge till 25. I was pleasantly surprised that she went through her Surge in this final book and we got to find out what her new powers were (I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet). I kind of wish we’d got more information about her powers and what type of sorcerer she ended up being.

I thought the scene at the end with Skulduggery and Valkyrie was beautiful, so lovely and heartfelt and showed just how much they had both come to care about each other of the years. I thought the conclusion to that was very good too, and I whilst part of me wished we had got to see the scene first hand rather than hear about it second hand later, I think if we had then it would have lessened the dramatic impact of the scene.

I was never the biggest fan of Valkyrie, I always much preferred Skulduggery but she has really grown over the course of the series, realised that she’s not perfect and she does make mistakes, and I have to say I liked the Valkyrie in this book much better than I have previously. She was still as badass as she’s always been which was great, because if you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know how much I love a strong female heroine. I liked that Derek Landy explored the psychological trauma that being Darquesse had on Valkyrie too, as well as the trauma of what she had to do in the end to beat her. I was happy in the end that Valkyrie didn’t die because I had prepared myself for that, though I wish Stephanie hadn’t had to. It seemed so cruel that she died when she did, but I understand why Landy did it, and it did make for an interesting twist to the story. I had mixed feelings about Stephanie (the reflection), but I found myself eventually loving her and what she was willing to do for her family.

Despite the fact that this book was quite dark, Landy did still manage to include a lot of his famous sarcastic wit and humour (mostly courtesy of Skulduggery) in this book which I loved, because for me, the humour is one of the many things that has made this series of books so wonderful. It’s a unique style of humour, very personal to Landy.

I love Scapegrace so much, he’s really developed as a character throughout the series (as have all the characters, Derek Landy is really a master at character development) from being a pretty rubbish “killer supreme” to being a zombie to being an actual person and back to being and zombie again. Not only has he changed physically though, he’s changed as a person, shown most in the very touching scene where he thinks Thrasher is going to die and he says all this lovely stuff to him, allows him to call him Vaurien rather than Master, and calls him by his human name Gerald. Of course this passes when it turns out Trasher isn’t dying but it was still a sweet moment. Scapegrace had his chance to prove himself in this book, and he really did prove he wasn’t useless and was really a good guy, which was great.

The book may have been a little slow to start to off with, but once it got going, it went at breakneck speed. It’s packed with action, and the final battle with Darquesse is epic! The final chapters confused me a little because I thought Darquesse actually destroyed the world, but when it was explained what the Sensitives had done, I thought it was really clever. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, because they didn’t really defeat Darquesse, and I was thinking Valkyrie would do but I think this way was more clever because I didn’t see it coming.

Since this is the last book, I want to say just how much I love Skulduggery Pleasant! He is such a three dimensional character, whilst he is humourous, Derek Landy has really explored his dark side over the course of these books, and I love the fact that he is the hero and yet has such a dark past and is just trying to redeem himself for it. I love how the relationship between Valkyrie and Skulduggery has evolved over the course of the books, at first he was just her teacher but they have become partners and friends over the course of the books and this is excellently shown in Skulduggery’s reaction to Stephanie (Valkyrie’s reflection), as although she may look the same, she’s not the same person, and this shows in the way Skulduggery acts around her (much quieter, not so much banter). When he is the only one who realises that Darquesse is pretending to be Valkyrie, it also shows how well they have come to know each other.

I liked seeing the way the vision played out, it wasn’t in the way I expected, but that’s a good thing because it was better. There were certain things that were the same, and certain things that were different which was good because it would have been boring if it had played in the exact way we have been expecting it to for years.

I thought Darquesse’s punishment for Ravel was a little harsh. I mean what he did was terrible, but I’m not sure he deserved that kind of torture, it seemed a little over the top. I also loved seeing China as Grand Mage in this book, because she seemed to suit the role down to the ground and you could tell she relished telling people what to do. I was glad the remnant was removed from Tanith and she came back just as awesome as ever, I particularly loved her fight with the black cleaver (although in terms of awesome fights Sanguine and the black cleaver was up there. I can’t believe what happened to him because I was starting to kind of like him in this book, and I felt sorry for him when Tanith was back to being herself, since he still had feelings for her but her feelings for him were gone). I really thought Tanith was going to die, since I read somewhere that Derek Landy meant to kill her off in the first book, but his editors wouldn’t let him so he agreed to keep her if he got to torture her every book. I thought he was going to kill her off since this was the final book, but I was glad he didn’t. I do wish he had explored her grief at Ghastly’s death a little more, we don’t even really get to see her reaction to it.

I liked the scenes with Fletcher and the Monster Hunters, with them teasing him about Stephanie, it felt like a normal guy thing to do, and was a nice break from the tension that runs through the book. I was really annoyed about what happened to Vex, because I really liked him, but he made just as awesome a bad guy as he did a good guy, so I’m willing to let Landy off the hook there.

I loved the scene with Valkyrie and Gordon, it was sad but truly beautiful (not going to reveal what happens because I don’t want to spoil it). I liked seeing the return of characters from previous books (Serpine, Melancholia, Argeddion etc) but it seemed some of them were only there to be killed off, which was a shame. I thought the scene with Vile and Melancholia fighting together was awesome, something I didn’t even know I wanted. We never did get to see a Vile/Skulduggery showdown, which was something I really wanted to see, but we did get to see a Serpine/Vile showdown which was pretty awesome.

I wasn’t thrilled by the ending, I kind of wish it had ended with Valkyrie and Skulduggery rather than Valkyrie and Danny. It was fine, but it wasn’t how I had imagined this amazing series coming to an end,  I would much rather it had ended with Skulduggery and Valkyrie reuniting. There were also many unanswered questions, like what are Saracen’s powers, what happened to everyone after the battle? Tanith? China? Fletcher? Nye? Eliza Scorn? Dexter? Saracen? Dai? Scapegrace? Val’s family? Even Skulduggery? We don’t know what happened to any of them in the years that Valkyrie went into hiding. Also in one of the books Dusk said he tasted something special in her blood and we never found out what it was. Was it just the blood of the ancients or was it something else? How did Valkyrie end up with these random powers and what exactly is she? It wasn’t tied up as much as it should have been, almost as if he was leaving it open to possibly come back to one day (which I would totally support!). This book was a great book, but certainly not my favourite in the series, but it was a decent finale, and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the series as a whole.

The past six years have been a roller coaster ride with Skulduggery, Valkyrie and co. and I am sad it has come to an end, but hey, I can always go back and reread! This series is one of my personal favourites, I may be slightly above the intended age range but that certainly hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it. These are truly great books, and even though they might seem intended for boys they can be enjoyed by girls too (me and my best friend both love them!), but they do get increasingly dark as the series goes on, so I wouldn’t recommend for under 11’s. I would like to thank Derek Landy, for writing these amazing books, and creating Skulduggery Pleasant, who I have to say is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. I mean how many books can you say have a talking, magical skeleton? Only this one.

Goodbye Skulduggery, it has been great getting to know you over the past few years. I will miss reading about you.

My rating: 4/5

My next review will be of Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult, one of my favourite authors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skulduggery Pleasant 8-Last Stand Of Dead Men Review

Book: Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand Of Dead Men-Derek Landy
Okay so this is my second book review. This one is a book from a series that I’ve loved for years. It’s the penultimate book in the series and it doesn’t disappoint. I would definitely recommend this series of books for lovers of the Percy Jackson books. Here’s a synopsis of the book:

War has finally come.

But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making.

But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

This book is a great read, fast paced and action packed and a great set up for the last book in the series (obviously you need to read the other seven or this one won’t make sense but they’re just as good). It might look like a book for boys but girls can enjoy it too-I’m a girl and I love them so don’t be put of by people saying they are more for boys. The book has a lot of incredible twists and a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting to scream at the author for leaving you hanging. The wonderful thing about these books is that the characters are all so amazing and complex-every good character has a bad, twisted side and no one is a better example of this than Skulduggery (the skeleton detective, who without a doubt has some of the best lines in the series) and Valkyrie herself (who literally has her own bad side). It’s very difficult to say much about this book without spoiling it particularly if you haven’t read the earlier ones but it has everything, violence, humour and magic-what more do you want?. I also loved how Skulduggery’s past was explored a little more in this book. There are a lot of battle scenes but all are incredibly well written and leave you hanging off the edge of your seat. My favourite character is obviously Skulduggery however moments with Scapegrace and Thrasher are probably some of the most hilarious in the book. Valkyrie’s development over the eight books has also been very well done. The takeover of Darquesse which we all (Skulduggery fans) knew was going to happen has finally happened, and this made for a great setup to the next book which will be the last and where the big battle happens. I hope that they find some way to defeat Darquesse but I have a feeling she’ll be killed and the reflection, Stephanie will take over her life-I could be wrong though. I’d recommend this book to anyone aged 9 or over-it’s not just a kid’s book, I’m a teenager and I love these however there is a lot of violence in this one but this series is definitely one to read.
My Rating-5/5 (if I could give it more I would)