Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant #1)

by Derek Landy, Tom Percival (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator)

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.

Review:
This is a really fun book, full of interesting characters, adventure, and action. I was engaged right from the first page.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective with a dry wit and a quick mind and full of snappy quips. You know right away when he appears at the fringes of his friend’s funeral that he is going to be interesting and full of character. He teams up with twelve year old Stephanie to find the Sceptre of the Ancients after her uncle’s death. There is mystery and intrigue right away, pulling both Stephanie and the reader into a magical world hidden in just below the surface of the everyday world.
I liked Stephanie — she is feisty and fearless, willing to fight for what is right. She is sensitive and thoughtful, but also determined, is able to stand up for herself, and is up for adventure.
Landy has created a fantastic magical world in this book, filled with interesting characters and menacing villains. Many of the characters are stereotypes, however, with the evil ones having no redeeming qualities and the good ones very sympathetic.
This is a great start to the series and I can see kids racing through these books.

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Book Review: The Magic Lands

Book Review: The Magic Lands

A magnificent book of 55 folk and fairy tales, wonder tales and ghost stories from all over Britain and Ireland. Taken from original sources and then brilliantly retold in a fresh and modern way, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection written in the last twenty years.A handsome trade paperback with notes and sources. Each story has a beautiful opening illustration by Emma Chichester Clark, a major illustrator.

First published by Orchard Books as BRITISH FOLK TALES, it attracted rave reviews: ‘outstanding’ Naomi Lewis in The Observer ‘a sourcebook of folklore no home with children should be without’ The Independent ‘this great storyteller’ Philip Pullman in The Guardian ‘a fine storyteller with a poet’s ear’ The Independent

 

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Magic Lands. I love reading original folk tales and myths and this book puts 55 interesting British and Irish ones together.

Each tale is short, some less than a page, some several pages long, so this is a perfect book for reading to children or to bring with you while you need to wait somewhere.

As much as I enjoyed the stories, I am a historian at heart, so found myself going to the end to read the “Sources and Notes” section for each tale. Crossley-Holland has obviously done huge amounts of research in this area and tells us about where the stories first came from, where first recorded, and other interesting details.

This is a great book for anyone wanting original tales written in accessible, modern language.

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Book Review: The Emerald Dagger

Book Review: The Emerald Dagger (The Raiders of Folklore #2)

The hunt for the Eye of Odin continues…

Since discovering a hidden world existed parallel to our own, fifteen-year-old Grayle Rowen learned he’s also a Hexhunter, someone born with the skills to track down and kill witches. Awkward…since his friend, Sarah Finn, is a witch-for-hire.

Now, together with Sarah and her elf Caretaker, Grayle travels to Istanbul to retrieve a third runestone linked to the whereabouts of the Eye of Odin—an artifact of unimaginable power. Their search pits them against Romans, a Crusader hit squad, and a journey through a deadly tomb. But what Grayle and Sarah discover about themselves along the way might be more than what they bargained for, and may ultimately put their friendship to the test.

From Istanbul’s grandest sites to its deepest tunnels, Dennis Staginnus has created a fast and furious thrill ride in this sequel to The Eye of Odin.

Review:
Dennis Staginnus’ Raiders of Folklore series just keeps getting better. I enjoyed his first book, The Eye of Odin, but this second installment is even better.
The Emerald Dagger had me hooked right from the first pages and kept me turning the pages to see what’s going to happen next. There is never a dull moment. And the story has mythological elements, something which I love.
The main characters, Grayle and Sarah, really start to come into their own in this book as we learn more about them and their motives for getting the Eye of Odin. The stakes just keep getting higher and more personal which makes the reader want them to succeed even more.
This is a great middle grade/early young adult book, especially for readers who like lots of action and adventure.
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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Review:
I was so excited to get this book when it came out and I wanted to love it so much, but I have to say I didn’t. I didn’t exactly hate it either because it was missing that Harry Potter magic that we’ve all come to expect from this series.
It was fun to delve into a play, something I hadn’t done in quite awhile, which also made it a quick read. I enjoyed visualizing what the scenes would look like on the stage — and according to the stage directions, the play must be spectacular.
But I did find the story lacking. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the whole story was missing a major villain, someone the reader could really hate, someone along the lines of Voldemort. There was an antagonist, but they just didn’t seem evil enough for the Harry Potter universe.
The other strange thing was the lack of magic.
Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the relationship between Harry and his son. It just felt wrong. Harry knew what it was like not to fit in and be bullied and yet he seemed to have very little sympathy for his own son.
My favourite characters in the story, by far, is Draco Malfoy, followed closely by Ron Weasley.
Overall, I did enjoy The Cursed Child, but found it lacking at the same time.

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