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#80 Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire by Derek Landy

Spoilers for the first Skulduggery Pleasant book. No real spoilers for Playing with Fire (book 2)


Skulduggery Pleasant (which is now being marketed as Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients) was a book that came highly recommended to me by the professor in my young adult literature class. When I eventually picked it up, I was immediately drawn in by the likable characters, fast paced action-oriented storyline, and fun dialogue. Part of the reason that I put off reading the sequel, Playing with Fire, for so long, was that I was worried that it would fall short of the standards set up by book one. Fortunately, I was not let down. In fact, I think it’s even better.

In Playing with Fire, Stephanie Edgely has taken up the name Valkyrie Cain, and now fights for the good guys alongside her friend and mentor Skulduggery Pleasant, a wise cracking skeleton who controls the elements. The story starts when they learn that Baron Vengeous has escaped from his Russian prison cell, and is planning on raising a dangerously powerful creature called the Grotesquery. Now, Valkyrie and Skulduggery, joined by old allies such as China Sorrows and Tanith Low, are on a mission to take down Vengeous before he destroys the world.

Playing with Fire is an incredibly fun novel that’s very difficult to put down. Much like the first novel, Playing with Fire appears to draw it’s inspiration more from action movies, and comic books more than other selections of children’s literature. Although it’s far from deep, Playing with Fire manages to survive just fine on its own because Landy is very good at what he does. The pacing is such that you don’t notice the pages flying by. The dialogue is witty, and some of the best sections to read are the back-and-forths between Valkyrie and Skulduggery. Landy also does a great job at creating a world of superheroes that resembles that ones that already exist, but has a unique spice that makes is unlike anything we’ve read before. Another thing I enjoy is that Landy doesn’t talk down to his audience (which is intended to be on the younger side of the YA spectrum). Sometimes, the book needs to be violent, and boy is it violent at times.

Another thing that Landy is beginning to prove proficient in is foreshadowing. Although when you turn the last page of the book, the immediate plot has been solved, there are a few threads left dangling that makes it very tempting to run out and pick up book three, The Faceless Ones. I know I’m fighting that temptation right now.


Rating: five stars
Length: 351 pages
Source: bookcloseouts.com
TBR Pile: 135 books
Similar Books: The Artemis Fowl Series. The Harry Potter Series.
Other books I've read by this author: Skulduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients

Next up, I’m reading a collection of fantasy short stories, The Coyote Road. Expect updates to be far less frequent from me, as I just became a full time student in a master’s program for library science. I have very little time to read beyond what’s required. I’m doing my best to make reading a priority, but I’m buried in homework!

xposted to bookish andtemporaryworlds

Tags: derek landy, five stars, skulduggery pleasant, urban fantasy, vampires, year published: 2008, young adult
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