Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Skulduggery Pleasant

Back when I was eleven years old, if you had handed me a book featuring a magic using, skeleton detective, I would have likely snapped your hand off and demanded to know where I could get the next twenty books. As a soon to be 44 year old it takes a little more to impress me. Although there are some gems of children's fiction about these days, this one doesn't come close to competing with the current gold standards of Rowling, Pullman and Stroud. The book, on the whole, is quite easy to read and the action is enthusiastically described like a blow by blow radio commentary for WWF. Derek Landy's world building follows his small group of characters around like a small bubble generated by their presence. There is little depth to it. It just sort of springs up as the characters progress. Skulduggery Pleasant isn't the dynamic and extraordinary figure the cover blurb promises either. He's a rather contradictory fellow who happens to be a skeleton. He doesn't do much detecting either, coming across as more of a gung-ho soldier, though perhaps in future novels he will get a chance to show off his skills rather than his kills. I had trouble sometimes, when there were extended scenes filled with dialogue, in keeping track of who was actually speaking, which considering usually featured a centuries old undead skeleton detective sorcerer conversing with a 12 year old girl hardly seems possible. Stephanie is also too shallow a character, her motivations seem mainly to be driven by avoiding boredom. There are moments when she almost comes alive, notably as she wonders how her parents will deal with the doppelganger living in her bedroom, who will continue to fool the world with a hollow smile after the real Stephanie has died in her quest for adventure but these are way too few. Back when I was eleven none of this would have mattered. My imagination would have filled in all the blanks and coloured all the characters in blazing technicolor. These days my imagination needs a bit more grist for the mill.

1 comment:

  1. You have written a great review on this book Michael. I've enjoyed reading your post.
    An English Girl Rambles