Reviews for Playing with Fire


Booklist Reviews 2008 June #1
In this sequel to Skullduggery Pleasant (2007), skeleton-detective Skullduggery and his apprentice, Valkyrie Cain (aka 13-year-old Stephanie Edgley), track down the recently escaped Baron Vengeous, who plans to animate the Grotesquery, a vicious monster assembled from a variety of fearsome beasts. The Baron has finally located the remaining ingredients necessary to complete his work--the late Lord Vile's armor and some blood from one of the Ancients. There's not much character development, but Landy, who has also written horror screenplays, is in his element here. His style is cinematic, and the action nonstop. Skullduggery's subtle humorous asides (some referencing classic horror films and stories) lighten the mood, and magical details, such as Valkyrie's ability to throw fireballs, add to the fun. Fans of the earlier title as well as fantasy buffs pining for the now-vanquished Voldemort will enjoy this tale of good versus evil. A final scene suggests another installment is in the works. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2008 April #1
In a kicking sequel to Skulduggery Pleasant (2007), 13-year-old Valkyrie Cain (ne Stephanie Edgley) and her bony, ever-dapper mentor face off against both a sorcerer rated "11" on the 10-point Evil Villain Scale and the more-or-less unkillable chimera he raises up to summon back some terrifying elder gods. The gods don't show (this time), but it comes right down to the wire, and even the supporting cast--which includes a corps of shambling larval vampires, a spider-spitting shapechanger and an iteration of Spring-Heeled Jack who makes Freddy Krueger look like the Singing Nun--is good for goosebumps atop goosebumps. The plot speeds along amid a whirl of chases, last-tick rescues, one high casualty mele after another and plenty of snappy, hard-boiled dialogue. Landy gives the term "deadpan humor" a whole new meaning; readers who prefer their heroes laconic and their action nonstop are in for a wild ride. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 July

Gr 5-9-- In this sequel to Skulduggery Pleasant (HarperCollins, 2007), 13-year-old Valkyrie Cain and her mentor, the living skeleton detective, are faced with the return of the evil Baron Vengeous, who has been freed from prison. Vengeous is trying to reanimate the Grotesquery, a monster made up of pieces of a variety of evil creatures. If his scheme is successful, the Faceless Ones, "the terrible dark gods, exiled from this world," will return. Faced with treachery within the ranks of good magicians, Valkyrie and Skulduggery must rely on their own Elemental magical powers and a few trusted allies to confront Vengeous's magic and helpers, such as the vampire Dusk and Billy-Ray Sanguine, who has the ability to tunnel underground. One magical action sequence follows another as Valkyrie must find the courage to face what seem to be insurmountable foes. Humorous conversations between Valkyrie and Skulduggery add flavor to this generally dark and often-violent novel, as does the girl's appreciation of the dichotomy between her evil-fighting life and that of a quiet student lived by her reflection while she's off saving the world. Fans of the first book will particularly enjoy the new schemes and evil creatures found here. While the back-and-forth between Skulduggery and Vengeous's forces repeats a few too many times, readers looking for a mix of magic and action will find it here.--Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

[Page 103]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2008 June
Continuing the adventures of Skulduggery Pleasant and Stephanie Edgley, the latter who now goes by the name Valkyrie Cain, this installment pits the walking, talking skeleton and his teenaged apprentice against the evil Baron Vengeous, whom Skulduggery had helped defeat and imprison some eighty years before. Other familiar characters from the first book, including Tanith Low and China Sorrows, make appearances, and Valkyrie learns that Vengeous's interest in her goes well beyond her association with Skulduggery. As with its predecessor, this snappy, entertaining book reads like a graphic novel without the graphics. Although one could quibble with the villains' silly and somewhat interchangeable names (Vengeous, Vile, Scapegrace, Serpine, and Sanguine), it is nonetheless the type of book that simply makes reading fun. In addition, just when Valkyrie begins to seem a bit too flip about using a magical reflection to keep her parents in the dark, Landy layers her with a bit more emotional depth, addressing the issue even if not resolving it. The book's ending indicates that further novels about Skulduggery and Valkyrie will be forthcoming. The series thus far not only will appeal to those young adults already reading mystery, fantasy, and paranormal novels, it may also help reluctant readers make the transition from comic books and graphic novels to full-length fiction-a great match for teens of many interests.-Amy Sisson PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-124089-8. 4Q 5P M J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.

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