Sunday, 29 August 2010

Review: Skulduggery Pleasant - Mortal Coil by Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are back – just in time to see their whole world get turned upside down…

While they struggle to protect a known killer from an unstoppable assassin, Valkyrie is on a secret mission of her own. This quest, to prevent her dark and murderous destiny, threatens to take her to the brink of death and beyond. And then the body-snatching Remnants get loose, thousands of twisted souls who possess the living like puppets, and they begin their search for a being powerful enough to lead them. Facing such insurmountable odds, Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith can trust no one. Not even each other.

In preparation for writing this review I have just looked back at what I wrote about Dark Days, the previous book in this hugely entertaining series. At the time I really struggled to write a detailed review that did not contain any spoilers, and I'm now having that Groundhog Day feeling. Please do not feel let down if this review is not as detailed as some of my others but given the recent backlash on blogs and Twitter about certain nasty reviewers peppering their Mockingjay reviews with spoilers I want to be extra careful with this.

This is the thickest Skulduggery Pleasant book so far, weighing in at a hefty 572 pages; Derek Landy has obviously been on something of a writing roll given that Dark Days was released a mere five months ago. I enjoyed Dark Days but I had some reservations about how certain villains could have been developed more and a couple of the scenes seemed slightly superfluous. You will be glad to hear that I have no such criticisms about this book at all - I loved it and I think it has possibly become one of my favourite of the series so far.

Dark Days ended with less of a cliffhanger than its predecessor The Faceless Ones, although the final revelation about Darquesse was more than enough to get Skulduggery fans speculating wildly on fan forums and Facebook. Mortal Coil will not answer all of the questions that have been asked over the last five months, but the plot does have a number of deeply pleasing revelations. However, at the same time it also creates even more questions regarding Valkyrie, Darquesse et al so expect those forums to be buzzing noisily over the next few months as well.

The plot of Dark Days relied partly on the villains' use of a Remnant - a body-snatching wraith-like entity that can take over and use a human body without others realising. In Mortal Coil the Remnants play much more than a cameo role - the plot very much focuses on these creatures as they are released from their prison in the Midnight Hotel with devastating consequences for our team of heroes and the local 'normal' population. Yes.... people die in this book (and not just nameless mortals either), and sometimes pretty nastily, although Derek Landy rarely resorts to giving us graphic descriptions of this as he much prefers his readers to use their imaginations to fill in all the gory details. However, there is one wonderful scene where Valkyrie takes herself off to be 'treated' (any other word would give too much away) and the description of her experience is certainly not for the faint hearted!

Much of this book focuses on how Valkyrie is coming to terms with the revelations at the end of Dark Days, especially with regards to issues of trust. In her mind, despite being very close to Skulduggery, Tanith, Fletcher and the others, she is really not sure she trusts any of them enough to help her in this case. This leads to her putting her life in mortal peril, without any of them aware, and then, just as she feels she is able to confide a little more in her friends along come the Remnants and suddenly no-one knows who can they trust. Once the Remnants appear en masse the reader is kept guessing for the rest of the book as to just who has, or hasn't, been taken over and Derek Landy treats us to more nail biting scene after nail biting scene, some of which had me completely stumped as to how our heroes would escape death, or something worse, and as for the final climactic scene....... you will just have to read it for yourself, but I have a very strong feeling it will shock you.

My thanks go to the generous people at HarperCollins who sent me a copy of Mortal Coil to review. The book's official release date is 2nd September, but a number of sneaky book stores already have copies on their shelves if you go hunting.


  1. the book overall was good but it realy confused me at times :)

  2. This book was great until I came to page 428 in which 5 or 6 lines are taken directly from The Princess Bride (p. 133). It makes me wonder how much of the rest of the book is plagiarised.