When I polled my friends for their favorite books, one of my bookstagram buddies responded that her whole family loves Skulduggery Pleasant!
It sounded a little silly. A middle grade novel with fantasy/horror/humor elements about a snarky skeletal detective. I have seen it recommended before and said ok why not, I could use a laugh!
The audiobook didn’t disappoint. I absolutely loved it enough to put holds on the next few books. I’m told that the series goes downhill and gets PC/political later on so I am a little bit wary, but plan on enjoying the books until it gets to that point!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Skulduggery Pleasant
- Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #1
- Author: Derek Landy
- Publisher & Release: HarperCollins, April 2007
- Length: 400 pages:
- Rate & Recommend: 4.5⭐ for fans of middle grade-YA. (Remember that I rate these books mainly off of age appropriateness and overall enjoyment)
Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:
Meet Skulduggery Pleasant
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.
There are a lot of books bridging the Middlegrade to YA reading gap and this is one of them. A mature 10 year old could read or listen to this, or an adult could find a few things to laugh at too.
It’s funny, very funny, and I think the narrator brought out the banter and personalities of the characters really well. Some of the dialogue is clunky but for a debut novel I really liked the characters.
Stephanie didn’t seem to have a lot to be upset with in her life, but she is seeking adventure and finds it after her uncle dies and a skeleton in disguise shows up at the reading of his will.
Between Stephanie’s adventure sense and Skulduggery’s one liners and absolute lack of any idea of how to handle a 12 year old, they make quite a pair. I say again how much I love the banter and how awkward Skul could be
The book moves at an appropriately fast pace for middle grade fantasy. The fighting got a bit repetitive but the story moved quickly and I was absolutely not bored at all. I think that 10-16 age group would devour this book
The biggest thing I noted that set this one apart from it’s genre peers is how dark it got at times. Age appropriately dark, but still dark. Where other books in this genre stay fairly light on tough themes, this went into grief and torture, betrayal and madness, among other things scattered between the jokes and lighter content.
I liked it for that contrast of light and dark, highlighting the gray zones and debating who the “good guys” are.
Here are a small few of my favorite quotes:
I’m placing you under arrest for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and, I don’t know, possibly littering
A living skeleton isn’t enough for you, is it? What does it take to impress young people these days?
To betray is to act against, I just haven’t acted at all
Content wise – there’s very little language, I think he says “damn” once. There is no romantic content and the dark content stays pretty age appropriate which I love and find necessary in order to rate these books! Any one liners targeted at adults are going to go straight over the little one’s heads, even I hardly caught them.
Overall: I would definitely recommend this as a fun, fast paced read or listen for anyone interested in middle grade/ early YA books
A quick note on the audio: approximately 7 hours, narrated by Rupert Degas. I loved his accent so much and found it perfect for the text, characters, banter, etc. There’s music at the end of each chapter that set the mood for the next chapter, corny but fun. 100% going to listen to a few of these because I need a laugh in my life and if nothing else, I was laughing out loud for sure 😂