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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
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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 the Hardcover edition.