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.