Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant - Resurrection by Derek Landy

Thanks to the Reading Zone and HarperCollins for the review copy.

A secret order of dissident sorcerers is attempting to resurrect an ancient being to launch a war against the mortals. Skulduggery Pleasant, skeleton detective and sorcerer, is going to need all the help he can get to stop them. Luckily for him, his protégé Valkyrie Cain is back in Ireland. He just needs to convince her to join the fight once more, but Valkyrie has her own demons to battle. Three years after the we thought we’d seen that last of them, Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain have returned for a new series of adventures!

I am relatively new to the world of Skulduggery Pleasant - I was actually reading the first book of the series when I was offered the new one to review. It was really interesting to see the differences and similarities in the tones of the books going straight from the first to the tenth. Skulduggery is immediately recognisable - a centuries-old, powerful and intelligent detective-sorcerer-skeleton with a penchant for puns and a big (not-literal) heart. The most obvious difference is Valkyrie Cain. She’d started the series as an excited 12 year old girl, discovering a world full of magic and adventure. In Resurrection, she is almost unrecognisable - a 24 year old woman who has seen (and caused) too much pain and destruction. She is struggling to cope, and suffers from PTSD and depression.

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Valkyrie Cain - Aged 12
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Valkyrie Cain - aged 24

These differences in character and tone don’t come across as odd or out of place. Rather, they help make the world of Skulduggery Pleasant feel more real (despite the magic and walking talking skeleton!). Consequences of decisions and actions that are all too often ignored in many popular books and films of this kind, instead help to shape the world of these books. You’d also expect a book about a 12 year old to feel different to one about a 24 year old.1

Resurrection is also populated by a diverse and varied cast of characters - there are people from many ethnic and national backgrounds, displaying a range of sexualities and gender identities (one of my favourites is a teenage gender fluid teleporter called Never). It feels inclusive without succumbing to tokenism. There are a number of new characters to the series introduced in Resurrection, most notably schoolboy Omen Darkly - twin brother to the Chosen One - who is employed by Skulduggery and Valkyrie to spy on his teachers and fellow students. What could possibly go wrong? I guess you’d have to read the book to find out (spoiler: a lot could possibly go wrong).

I did really enjoy this book, but would probably have got a lot more out of it if I’d read all the intervening stories (which I definitely plan on doing, by the way). The Skulduggery Pleasant titles are among the most broadly popular in my library. I can’t think of many other books that are regularly devoured by both Year 7 boys and Year 10 girls. I don't see that changing as this books launches the new series of adventures of Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Omen.

A shorter version of this review originally appeared on the Reading Zone website.

Asides

  1. Come to think of it, it could be a really interesting prop to use in a creative writing lesson - get students to imagine how a character from their favourite book might be as a grown up, how they’d been affected by their story.

What do you think?