Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review - Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days

The Eulogy (From the Publishers): Skulduggery Pleasant is gone, sucked into a parallel dimension overrun by the Faceless Ones. If his bones haven′t already been turned to dust, chances are he′s insane, driven out of his mind by the horror of the ancient gods. There is no official, Sanctuary-approved rescue mission. There is no official plan to save him.
But Valkyrie′s never had much time for plans.
The problem is, even if she can get Skulduggery back, there might not be much left for him to return to. There′s a gang of villains bent on destroying the Sanctuary, there are some very powerful people who want Valkyrie dead, and as if all that wasn′t enough it looks very likely that a sorcerer named Darquesse is going to kill the world and everyone on it.
Skulduggery is gone. All our hopes rest with Valkyrie. The world′s weight is on her shoulders, and its fate is in her hands.
These are dark days indeed.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): Perhaps not the strongest entry in this brilliant series, but still a hilarious horror read.

Dearly Departed,
We are gathered here today to discuss Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days by Derek Landy. Actually, that's a lie. I'll actually be discussing this and its predecessor, book three, The Faceless Ones, since I read them one after the other. It's a rare series that can make me leap straight on to the next book, since I like some time between them to digest or the second usually suffers. But book three ended on such a cliffhanger that I needed book 4 straight away.

If you've read the synopsis for book four, then the cliffhanger is already ruined - Skulduggery is lost inside a terrifying alternate universe populated by Faceless Ones. And they're not terribly friendly. I really enjoyed the absence of Skul at the start of this, because it showed Valkyrie growing as a character, and how capable she is in his absence. That said, I was eager for her to get him back, since he is the title character and all.

One thing that disappointed me slightly was Skulduggery's state of mind after being rescued. He kind of laughed it off and was his regular self, with the occasional crack showing. Which to me, didn't seem to gel with being trapped in a demon universe for a year. I really would have liked to see a deeper side to his personality and actually carried a bit of that trauma over from the other side. But then, that's not very funny, is it?

And that's precisely what makes these books work so well - the humour. Not very many other books manage such a perfect mix of laughs, horror and action, so it's no surprise that this series is so popular. Great characters, snappy dialogue and world-building you want to be a part of - if you haven't started this series, I highly recommend it for anyone, but particularly if you're having a hard time finding a series to appeal to you.

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