Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review: Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy

Magic is a disease.

Across the land, normal people are suddenly developing wild and unstable powers. Infected by a rare strain of magic, they are unwittingly endangering their own lives and the lives of the people around them. Terrified and confused, their only hope lies with the Sanctuary. Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are needed now more than ever.

And then there's the small matter of Kitana. A normal teenage girl who, along with her normal teenage friends, becomes infected. Becomes powerful. Becomes corrupted. Wielding the magic of gods, they're set to tear the city apart unless someone stands up against them.

Looks like it's going to be another one of those days…

Has Derek Landy sold his soul to the devil? Or perhaps at some point he managed to capture a leprechaun? Surely writing talent this great is not gained through natural means? Surely there has to be some supernatural explanation as to how he continues to produce brilliant story after brilliant story, the latest weighing in at a hefty 607 pages?

I think this might just be my favourite Skulduggery Pleasant book so far. I say only think, as without re-reading the whole series it is nigh on impossible to state this with any certainty, and unfortunately at present I just don't have the time to revisit the other six books. Seven books in to this series I certainly did not expect a story that felt so fresh and original, especially given how superb the previous book was, bringing together so many different plot strands that had been created throughout the preceding instalments. Apart from the absence of Tanith in Death Bringer, long time fans had many questions answered regarding Skulduggery, Val, Darquesse and Lord Vile, and so this seventh book heralded a new plot arc for our heroes, and I have been wondering for some time how Derek Landy would have enough ideas left, or would we see a dip in form as we did with Eoin Colfer's seventh Artemis Fowl book?

Incredibly, the ideas are obviously still there, although like JK Rowling did as the Harry Potter series progressed, Landy has given this book a darker and more grown-up feel. It has all the elements we have come to expect from a Skulduggery story - great characters (new and old), a cardiac arrest inducing pace, and of course, Derek Landy's awe inspiring dialogue. I think I may have said this before - it is the dialogue in these books that sets them head and shoulders above most of YA fantasy/horror stories that have been written over recent years. However, added to these is a plot that is far more complex than usual, as new, seemingly unrelated strands are woven, and then gradually twisted together as the story progresses. For example, the book opens with a quartet of teenagers who have suddenly found themselves with magical powers, testing their magic and then using it in a diabolical way. We don't then read about this group until much, much later in the book, Landy keeping us on edge wondering when they will finally appear again, and when they do Val and Skulduggery may find they have finally met their match.

The plot is so complex in this book that to try to explain it further would either have me creating spoilers, or rambling on for another 500 or so words. Let's face it, if you're a Skulduggery fan you don't need me to tell you what happens in this books as you're going to be as eager to read it as I was anyway. I will tell you that you have one hell of an exciting literary ride ahead of you, and those of you who err more towards being horror fans rather than fantasy fans will delight in some of the more gory and gruesome scenes. There is one in particular, that had me grinning from ear to ear with devilish merriment (some might call me a little sick in the head for finding such delight in it) - page 576, if your interested. And then another corker on page 551/552. Poor Val!

The final chapter of the book will have you weeping - not tears of sadness but instead of frustration, as Landy brings his story to an end with a new plot strand that will have you desperate to read the next instalment, whenever that might be released. This new element to the story is something that I have been hoping would happen for some time, something I speculated about many books previously and I am really excited to see that Derek Landy has finally introduced it into his story. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has seen this coming, and many other fans will gasp with excitement as they turn those final pages.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked is scheduled to be published on 30th August, and my thanks go to the wonderful people at HarperCollins for sending me a copy to read and review.


  1. I seriously can't wait till I get my hands on Kingdom of the Wicked! Thank you for this review, I am even more excited now! :)

  2. I think i get what you're hinting at in the final pages, "mirror mirror on the wall"?
    I'm getting it today, can't wait! :)

  3. OMG this book is so AWESOME!
    The Epilouge wasnt totaly unexpected,
    but I mean after some scenes in the book
    Anyway the story plot is as cool as always, even when some
    old ideas turn up Derek has somehow managed to
    make them so well written you`ll just freak out.
    Definetly my favorite book in 2012 !!!

  4. Definitely agree with you, such spoilers I can ramble about. I can't wait for book 8!