Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Skeleton Buddy Book

The Bony One is back in a new adventure, Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire. (By Derek Landy.)

I liked the first book, and I liked this one, too. I had some trouble working out who the bad guys were and just what was going on at first. But with Skulduggery books, the main interest is the repartee between the buddy main characters, the ageless skeleton detective/sorcerer Skulduggery Pleasant and his apprentice, Stephanie Edgley, who has renamed herself Valkyrie Cain. (Sort of like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce.) Enjoying them carried me along until I was up to speed again.

Stephanie/Valkyrie is twelve (or maybe thirteen in this second book, I'm not sure), and that's a pivotal age in kid books. It's the youngest age at which authors can pull off having their child characters take part in adult-like adventures with any degree of believability. Valkyrie is more believable than many fantasy protagonists because author Landy came up with a duplicate to leave in her place at home, which explains why she's able to have adventures without her parents wrecking things by, say, having her locked up. She also learns that she's descended from magical folk, which lends some logic to her being able to do things like create fireballs. (Assuming you can accept the logic behind magical folk, themselves.)

Finding out you're special is common in kid fantasies. (You know, like Harry Potter.) Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying.

Though Skulduggery is a marvelous, clever, anti-heroic hero, there's no doubt that Valkyrie is the main character in Playing with Fire. Which is exactly as it should be, because this is a kids' book!

The Skulduggery Pleasant website is one of the best book sites I've seen. Many of them are lame or at least tedious. And many of the sites for popular books (like this one) are filled with bells and whistles and not much else. This one actually has the things I want to know about easily accessible--The Books, The World, The Author. (Watch out for The Extras, though. I got caught in some kind of loop that kept my computer desperately opening pages while making a horrendous noise as if it were about to go into space.) In The World, you'll find a great interview with Skulduggery.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire has been nominated for a Cybil.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right--the repartee makes those books. Dialog like that, I'd love to write!

tanita✿davis said...

I can't WAIT to read this one!!!