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Skulduggery Pleasant [Library Binding]

Derek Landy
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 18 2007 Skulduggery Pleasant

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
and
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.



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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too Aug. 26 2007
Format:Hardcover
It all started when Gordon Edgley died. Well, it actually started much earlier than that. I mean, if you want to be picky it "all" started at the dawn of time. Or is that just when time started? Never mind. The point is, for Stephanie Edgley it all started when her uncle Gordon died. Gordon wasn't much of a family man; in fact, Stephanie was probably the one closest to him. Even saying that, though, is a bit of a stretch. It would probably be better to say that he tolerated her presence better and more often than he did the rest of his family. Which still doesn't completely explain why he left his house, his fortune, and his book royalties to her. Actually, there's a lot of unexplained things about Gordon, even more so now that he's gone. Like the strange man at the funeral. The one wrapped so tightly in a scarf, sunglasses, and an overcoat that you can't even glimpse an inch of his skin. That was the first time Stephanie had ever encountered Skulduggery Pleasant.

The next time they were in the same room was for the reading of Gordon's will. The one where he left most of his things to his twelve-year-old niece. Much to the dismay of Stephanie's aunt and uncle, who got a boat (Uncle Fergus gets seasick), a car ("We already have a car!"), and a brooch ("It doesn't even have any jewels on it."). Stephanie's parents, incidentally, got the villa in France. Skulduggery Pleasant received the strangest gift of all, which is some very cryptic advice. With which he was completely content. This was not to be the last encounter between Stephanie and Skulduggery.

Having spent most of a day exploring part of Stephanie's new house, she and her mother get in the car to go home and find that the car won't start.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read for all ages June 15 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is a kind of "Harry Potter meets Neverwhere meets Harry Dresden" (w/o the naughty bits). And yet the books stand on their own. Wonderful writing, story and structure. Can't go wrong if you liked the Potter books and are looking for something in the same vein, but a whole new concept of the magical world.

I really enjoy the hard-boiled detective (heh heh heh) take on the mystery.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate July 22 2009
Format:Hardcover
It has much of the same appeal that Harry Potter did, showing us the initiation of a young protagonist into a world of magic and danger. But the world he shows us is less haphazard in construction, and Stephanie is funnier and more charming than Harry could ever hope to be.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly above mediocore Aug. 27 2010
Format:Paperback
I've read most of the popular young adult fantasy series from the last ten years or so, and this was probably the least compelling page-turner of the bunch. It really felt like the publisher and author had started off by creating a list of the key elements for a young adult fantasy novel, and then written the book to match their list.
a) Let's get a precocious young protagonist, kind of like a female Artemis Fowl.
b) Let's set it up so that the magic world exists alongside the real world, but no one in the real world knows about the magic world - like in harry potter, and the Percy Jackson series.
c) Let's set the young female character up with a smart talking magical guide/role model, like Bartimaeus from the Jonathan Stroud trilogy.
d) let's set up the back-story so that there already was one big magical war, and that ripples of that war reach down to the present day, and the battle-lines from that war are still drawn (like harry potter, percy jackson, the dark is rising series, etc etc).

Anyway - this book has all these elements but I really didn't feel like there was anything new here, or any enthusiasm with the writing. And somewhere I came across someone saying that Skulduggery was as fun and wise-talking a character as Bartimaeus. That's not true in the slightest - Stroud's Bartimaeus is a billion times more fun and interesting than Skulduggery.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  125 reviews
45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars TVesque Adventure Aug. 18 2007
By Kate Coombs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Skulduggery Pleasant is a wonderful name, and the skeletal title character is a fun new addition to the children's fantasy genre. However, when I bought the book, the bookstore clerk told me she thought it read like a TV show, particularly because of its snarky dialogue, and she was right. After an early interlude in which main kid Stephanie seems like a relatively normal child, we discover that the rest of the book is written in that dialect known as Banter, herein practiced by a preternaturally adult child character having snippy-snappy conversations with a childish adult character (Skulduggery).

The clerk also said she's seeing more and more children's books written in this style. Is it because everyone's aiming for a movie someday, like the Harry Potter franchise? Or is it because we have a new generation of writers whose training stems as much from years of TV and movie watching as from reading--writers with an ear for TV-style dialogue and characterization?

The plotting, too, which other Amazon reviewers have described in some detail, feels like a movie or at least a Saturday morning cartoon, albeit a lively one. Evil-villain-takes-over-the-world-with-the-help-of-appropriate-traitors-and-henchmen has been done to death, but Landy does throw in a few fresh twists, though the character of Skulduggery remains his greatest accomplishment. I would like to tell you that I found Stephanie appealing, but her mall-speak didn't quite work for me.

That said, there's obviously a place in the world for rowdy, TVesque books--look at all these rave reviews! Skulduggery Pleasant will be an entertaining read for a lot of kids, and it may yet become a movie or at least a video game. Still, it isn't well crafted in a traditional (award-winning, vanishing-classic, literary) sense. Try Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men, Tamora Pierce's Terrier, or Jonathan Stroud's Amulet of Samarkind if you want to see what I mean.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Bones About It! There's a New Hero In Town! Feb. 27 2008
By Shanshad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Some books you just know will be fun to read. It can be the title, the cover, the plot description . . . something that just makes your fingers itch to crack the cover. This is one of those books. His name is Skulduggery Pleasant. He's a snazzy dresser with a cool car. He's an elemental master who never has to find trouble, because it finds him. He's also a walking, talking skeleton. But that hasn't stopped him from trying to save the world. Derek Landy makes his debut in children's fiction with this delightfully action-packed romp about a skeleton detective and his strong-minded 12 year old sidekick.

The book opens with twelve-year old Stephanie Edgley receiving an inheritance from her recently deceased uncle. That inheritance includes, among other things, a mansion, money and entry into a deadly and fascinating world of magic and mayhem. Like, Harry Potter, Stephanie's about to discover there's a secret society of sorcerers and mages that the ordinary world doesn't know about. Unlike Harry Potter, she's a stubborn, smart-talking gal who won't take `no' for an answer, even when she's in mortal danger. The forces of evil are looking for a key that her uncle had, and they think she has it. They'll do whatever it takes to get it. Skulduggery and Stephanie have their hands full trying to stop them, because if they find what they're looking for, it just may be the end of the world. It's a high action adventure that readers will tear through to find out what happens, enjoying the witty dialog and colorful characters along the way. Derek Landy's first book for children is enjoyable, entertaining and vivid. In fact, it would likely make a good movie or television series without too much effort.

It's no surprise that Mr. Landy's past work includes screenplay writing--this story springs off the page in full 3-D action and thrills. However while the plot charges forward, the narrative doesn't offer much in the way of internal character thought or character depth. We really know very little about our main protagonist, Stephanie, other than that she despises school, is quick with a retort and doesn't flinch when the chips are down. While she's certainly fun to read about, her wit and flagrant disregard for rules a change from the usual, she doesn't really reveal much about herself and what makes her tick. Also, Stephanie's age is problematic. At times, she acts much more mature than a twelve year old would be expected to--she seems more like she's fourteen or fifteen. At other times, her lack of knowledge about Skulduggery's chosen words makes her seem younger than twelve. The story, while told in a fresh and exciting manner, is not all that new, or surprising: forces of evil want an object that will end the world, forces of good must stop them. Mr. Landry's sorcerous world builds on well-known conventions: complete with name magic, vampires, magical books, tentacled monsters and maniacal violent bad guys. This doesn't make it bad, but it's fairly predictable. And I can't quite forgive the author for naming the villains `Serpine' and `Mavolent'. It makes my teeth hurt when the baddies are so painfully obvious.

What saves this book from being another clichéd contemporary fantasy for kids is the chemistry between Stephanie and Skulduggery. These two characters are made for one another--trading witticisms and retorts, disrespecting authority and watching each other's backs. Stephanie is a tough heroine who takes a licking and kicks evil in the shins. Skulduggery is a charming hero all the readers can cheer on. This is a fairly violent book with death and lethal threats at every turn for the protagonists. While this is handled well without becoming too dark, it may be a bit frightening for sensitive younger readers. For a quick read and a taste of action-adventure, this isn't a bad choice at all. There's no doubt that this is only the first story in a series of adventures featuring our cast of characters. With any luck, the author will explore his character in more depth while maintaining the excitement of this first book.

For readers 9-14 looking for some quick-moving enjoyable contemporary fantasy with a gothic twist, this will likely be just the thing. Readers who enjoy this book may also want to check out "Gregor the Overlander" by Suzanne Collins and "Changeling" by Delia Sherman.

Happy Reading! ^_^ Shanshad
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Mr. Pleasant, you're a skeleton." May 14 2011
By Barbara A. Varacalli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all, don't laugh, but I'm almost 16. And this is still one of my favorite books ever. I read it at least three times a year.

This book contains everything a good children's book should: Ancient relics that possess sinister powers, a band of heroes and heroines who need to save the world, a creepy mansion, a unique system of magic, and even a scene of nice, old-fashioned spelunking. At the heart of the story is Skulduggery Pleasant, a character who's so good he deserves to have the series named after him. The witty, clever dialogue thrown back and forth between Stephanie and Skulduggery will bring nonstop entertainment.

While the book is lighthearted, I'm fascinated by the way Derek Landy has managed to subtly defy so many social stereotypes. Although this may not be an issue for everyone, it pleases me to read a story that rings with gender equity, yet doesn't contain a poorly developed in-your-face female lead. Stephanie Edgley is strong, intelligent, and precocious, which makes this book suitable for older readers as well as kids. It's also satisfying to read a book where the main character doesn't hate his or her parents, and the parents aren't oblivious idiots; in Skulduggery Pleasant, the Edgley family begins to notice when Stephanie goes out to solve mysteries with a skeleton detective.

The plot is highly original, the villains having been loosely based off of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The action and fighting sequences are well-written, and it's clear the author knows what he's talking about; Derek Landy is a black belt, and still trains regularly.

This book deserves to be way more popular in the United States than it currently is. If you're looking for the next great adventure story, this is it!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fun, witty book...but don't buy it used Jan. 19 2011
By Diana Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
My 10 year old son loves this book so much he arm-twisted me into reading it, and even I liked it. It's a PI book featuring a sarcastic, cynical skeleton as the PI. I recommend it for any fan of Harry Potter, Gregor the Overlander, The Lightning Thief, the City of Ember or other Young Adult fantasy novels.

But mostly I wanted to say if you are looking at this review of a used paperback version of the book "Skulduggery Pleasant", what you'll actually get is the book "Scepter of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant)". They are the same book...the first title was the hardcover edition; the title was changed for the American paperback edition released in 2009. Amazon sells the paperback new. I was mislead into thinking it was a different book (different covers, different titles, one out of print and selling used for premium prices), and thus I ordered both -- and wound up with exactly the same book, one new from Amazon, one used and more expensive from Amazon Marketplace!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful - we love this book Nov. 20 2009
By Lori Ellingboe - Published on Amazon.com
We first listened to this on CD, checked out from the library. It's witty, well read, fun characters, and creative. I mean, the hero is a skeleton mage...
Not your everyday characters. I have two sons, aged 15 and 11, and we go back to it. Datapoint: We also loved Harry Potter, and have been looking for other authors who have imagination, sense of humor, and an entertaining read. This book is a bit simpler than Harry was: fit for a slightly younger child.
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