Reviews for Skulduggery Pleasant : Playing With Fire
Booklist Reviews 2007 May #1
Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley inherits her uncle Gordon's estate and is promptly attacked on her first solo visit to the property. A mysterious skeleton-detective, Skulduggery Pleasant, comes to her rescue, explaining that he thinks Gordon was murdered and that she may be next. The two join forces and set off to solve the crime in a series of magical adventures that take them into a world filled with ancient evil creatures, including Nefarian Serpine, who seeks the Scepter of the Ancients and the infinite power it will bring him. Landy, whose previous writing credits include horror screenplays, keeps the action brisk, his characters slightly macabre, and uses humor to take the edge off the violence. The story line is intricate (with numerous plot twists and switches in allegiance), and although her actions seem better suited to a somewhat older girl, Stephanie is a well-developed main character. The level of violence may disturb younger readers, however. This is recommended for larger collections where demand for horror/fantasy is high. ((Reviewed May 1, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
After inheriting her uncle's estate, twelve-year-old Stephanie learns he possessed a powerful ancient weapon. All that's standing between it and an evil sorcerer are Stephanie, her uncle's best friend Skulduggery (who's a living--sort of--magic skeleton), and Skulduggery's collection of allies. The convenience-ridden plot is elevated by snappy banter, flowing action sequences, detailed mythology, and frequent twists. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
After inheriting her uncle's estate, twelve-year-old Stephanie learns he possessed a powerful ancient weapon. All that's standing between it and an evil sorcerer are Stephanie, her uncle's best friend Skulduggery (who's a living--sort of--magic skeleton), and Skulduggery's collection of allies. The convenience-ridden plot is elevated by snappy banter, flowing action sequences, detailed mythology, and frequent twists. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #4
When Stephanie's beloved uncle Gordon, an author of "tales of horror and magic and wonder," dies suddenly, Stephanie is the unexpected inheritor of his estate. It is soon apparent that Gordon was in possession of an unstoppable ancient weapon constructed to defeat unstoppable ancient gods called the Faceless Ones. The only things now standing between that weapon and an evil sorcerer are Stephanie, Gordon's best friend Skulduggery Pleasant (a living -- sort of -- magic skeleton), and Skulduggery's dubious collection of allies. Stephanie, the adventure-bent twelve-year-old heroine with an improbable aptitude for magic and martial arts, is a walking fantasy stereotype (as are her Dursley-like relatives and excessively oblivious parents), and though Skulduggery is given a tragic history and a supposed thirst for revenge, his past never comes into play, either in his relationship with Stephanie or in the larger magical-political conflict. Still, the convenience-ridden plot is elevated somewhat by Stephanie and Skulduggery's snappy banter, and the flowing action sequences, detailed mythology, and frequent twists will keep readers engaged. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 March #2
A high-intensity tale shot through with spectacular magic battles, savage mayhem, cool outfits, monsters, hidden doors, over-the-top names, narrow escapes, evil schemes and behavior heroic, ambiguous and really, really bad. When the murder of a favorite uncle touches off a frantic search for a fabled superweapon known as the Scepter of the Ancients, 12-year-old Stephanie is abruptly pitched out of her mundane life. She hooks up with Skulduggery Pleasant--a walking, wisecracking, nattily dressed, fire-throwing skeleton detective--and similar unlikely allies to fight a genially sadistic sorcerer out to conquer the world and to bring back the bad old gods. It's a great recipe for a page-turner, and though Landy takes a chapter or two to get up to full speed, the plot thereafter accelerates as smoothly as Pleasant's classic Bentley toward a violent, seesaw climax. Earning plenty of style points for hardboiled dialogue and very scary baddies, the author gives his wonderfully tough, sassy youngster a real workout, and readers, particularly Artemis Fowl fans, will be skipping meals and sleep to get to the end. Expect sequels. (Fantasy. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 February #1
Stephanie Edgley's uncle, a bestselling novelist, dies and leaves her his fortune. But the money doesn't interest her nearly as much as the odd, overdressed figure who appears at the funeral. He turns out to be the eponymous hero, the skeleton of a man, back from the dead to avenge his family's murder at the "red right hand" of Nefarian Serpine. Turns out, Stephanie has also inherited the family gene for sorcery, and she teams with Skulduggery to defeat the villain. Violent clashes with various cretins ensue. Some supporting characters, such as the magic world's "Elders," blend together, and Serpine's motivation is of the vague "I will rule the world!" variety. But plucky Stephanie and her dapper, urbane mentor make up for this slight lack of definition and clarity. Skulduggery is as caustic and witty as Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus, but a man (er, skeleton) of fewer words. First novelist Landy, a Dublin playwright, excels at dialogue; the repartee between the two leads recalls Hepburn and Tracy in its ongoing, affectionate contest of verbal one-upmanship. (When Stephanie complains about Skulduggery's high-falutin' vocabulary, he retorts, "You should read more," to which she replies, "I read enough. I should get out more.") Landy sets the tale on the Irish coast and reaches into Celtic lore for a cameo from the son of Finn McCool, but there's nothing old-fashioned about the way this story unspools. The book may be hefty but it moves at warp speed. An utterly charming debut, perfect for the Potter crowd. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) [Page 59]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October
Gr 4-8-- Every once in a while a story comes along that is pure unadulterated fun. This tale (HarperCollins, 2007) by Irish screenwriter Derek Landy is one of those gems. Stephanie Edgley. age 12, meets Skulduggery at her uncle's funeral. He is covered from head to foot and it is some time before Stephanie realizes Skulduggery is a skeleton. Far from being repulsed, she's fascinated by a world of magic she never knew existed. When Stephanie inherits her uncle's estate, strange men begin pursuing her and detective Skulduggery comes to her rescue. The plot thrusts the duo into tight spots and narrow escapes which will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Narrator Rupert Degas is flawless in his interpretation of the story. Even minor characters come deliciously to life. But it is the relationship between Stephanie and Skulduggery that makes this tale such a hoot. The two bicker back and forth with dry wit and sarcasm, but Stephanie holds her own against the flawed, heart-of-gold Skulduggery. Hopefully, we have not heard the last of this dynamic duo. A must-have purchase.--Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK [Page 77]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2007 June
Gr 5-8-- When 12-year-old Stephanie's eccentric Uncle Gordon dies, a mysterious man bundled in an overcoat, scarf, sunglasses, and a hat shows up at both the funeral and the reading of the will. This man, as it turns out, is Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking, talking skeleton who rescues Stephanie when she is attacked while alone in the house that she has just inherited. It seems that a particularly evil person named Serpine is trying to obtain a scepter that will allow him to rule the world. Stephanie is swept into a world of magic, secrets, power, and intrigue as she and Skulduggery try to keep one step ahead of Serpine and various other nefarious folk. Deadly hand-to-hand combat, nasty villains, magical derring-do, and traitorous allies will keep readers turning the pages, but it is the dynamic duo of Stephanie and Skulduggery who provide the real magic. The girl eagerly jumps into this new, dangerous, action-packed life, but she isn't sure that she has the guts or the power to pull it off. Skulduggery Pleasant lives up to his name, performing amazing feats with such self-effacing drollness that readers will wish they had a similar skeletal friend. Give this one to fans of Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" books (Hyperion) or to anyone who likes a dash of violence and danger served up with the magic.--Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library [Page 150]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 August
Considering how many fantasy novels are imported into the U.S. these days, one hardly expects freshness and originality, so this Irish author's debut novel is a very pleasant surprise. Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley is perplexed when her eccentric Uncle Gordon dies, leaving her his vast estate. She is utterly astonished to find that his closest friend is a walking, talking skeleton who also happens to be a well-dressed, hard-boiled detective named Skulduggery Pleasant. Intrigued by Skulduggery's dangerous world of magic, Stephanie ignores his protests and begins tagging along on his adventures. Before long, she encounters a troll-killing warrior named Tanith Low, vampires completely unlike those about which she has read, an evil henchman made mostly out of paper, and many other wonders and perils Quite simply, this book is designed to appeal on every level. The book's cover, the illustrated drop caps that lead off each chapter, and the narrative's tone give it a graphic novel sensibility, even though it is really almost four hundred pages of straight text. Stephanie displays wisdom and courage beyond her years, and as such, will appeal to older teen readers as well as younger ones. Stephanie and Skulduggery's witty repartee is most enjoyable, and the pacing is fast, with constant action and fight scenes during which the author neither sugarcoats the violence nor revels in it unnecessarily. This book likely will be a big hit, and thus belongs in every library that serves young adult readers.-Amy Sisson PLB $18.89. ISBN 978-0-06-123116-2. 4Q 5P M J S Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.