Skulduggery Pleasant
Derek Landy

Stephanie's uncle Gordon wrote horror fiction. At least that's what Stephanie thought, until he died and left her his estate. Then she discovered that though his books may have been horror, they weren't exactly... well fiction.

Plunged into a terrifying world of vampires, evil villains and Hollow Men, Stephanie finds help from an unusual source: Skulduggery Pleasant, the wise-cracking skeleton of a dead magician. When all hell breaks loose, it's lucky for Stephanie that she's not your average twelve-year-old girl, and it's lucky for Skulduggery that he's already dead.

Will evil win the day? Will Stephanie and Skulduggery stop bickering long enough to save the world? One thing's for sure: the bad guys won't know what's hit them.

"It's exciting, pacy, nicely handled and it's fun... it's a pleasingly rounded tale, which is refreshing in these days of endless open-ended books of never-ending series." Phillip Ardagh, The Guardian
Adéle , from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This story is about a dead, crime-fighting detective. He finds a 13-year-old girl who decides to joins him on his adventures. During the book his past and Stephanie’s past develop, to play a important role in the first book and in the second book.


This was an amazing book with humour, excitement and thrill. I never read a book that was so original and I would never have thought of this idea. This book was hilarious with jokes that have been used so much that they have lost all the humour but the author has brought them back to life. It had a clear story plot and it kept me on my toes through the whole book. I read this book in about a day and immediately after I had finished, I asked my dad to buy me the next in the series. When it arrived, I read it in a single day as well.


The only bad thing about this book was the lack of description. However this allowed the reader to imagine with their own minds, so everyone had a different idea of what this world of magic and excitement was.


This was an amazing book and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. I was so exited when I read the second book and I can’t wait for the next in the series to come out.

Arian, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

This is an imaginative tale, I found it almost too unrealistic which some may find is a good aspect, but for me it didn’t quite work. The plot was very simple and unconvincing. I felt that the story was a bit rushed and that added to the unrealism.

One of the main characters was called Stephanie. She is a normal twelve year old girl who is quite shy. That was before her uncle died and before she met the strange detective called Skulduggery Pleasant.

I found the relationship between Stephanie and Skulduggery very rushed and this meant that I didn’t find out a sufficient amount about Stephanie. She just seemed like a determined and hot-headed girl who doesn’t even get fazed by near-death experiences and talking skeletons. She somehow manages to take it all in her stride which adds to the unsophisticated unreality of the plot.

Overall I found the book neither good nor bad, for me it was pretty average and slightly immature. However I think that if I was younger I would definitely enjoy it more.

Christina, from The Henrietta Barnett School London


This book is about a 12 year old girl called Stephanie Edgley whose rich Uncle Gordon dies and leaves her everything in his will. Soon after, while spending the night alone in her new mansion, she gets attacked by an unidentified man who desperately wants to know her name, but is rescued by her uncle’s mysterious friend, who turns out to be a living skeleton who can wield fire, water, air, and an old revolver. After the initial shock, Stephanie becomes friends with the detective-skeleton (Skulduggery Pleasant), and together they embark on a mission to find her uncle’s killer.


However, they accidentally discover that an ancient sorcerer called Serpine is hatching a plot to destroy the world. Skulduggery is captured by the evil Serpine, and this time it is Stephanie who has to be the hero. She sets off to Serpine’s castle with a few well-chosen friends, rescues Skulduggery, and together they set off to stop Serpine from bringing back the Faceless ones, evil Gods who ruled the earth many years ago, and who hate all humankind ...


This is a really fun-to-read, exciting book, which is fast paced, funny, and hard to put down. The writing is very quirky and from the first page you are gripped into the story and want to read more. The story goes straight into the action, and never stops. I love the way the author portrays the characters, and all their emotions, especially Stephanie’s aunt and uncle, Fergus and Beryl, who are very amusing to hear about in their desperate greed.    


I would recommend this book to children aged 11-14, boys or girls. It is very light reading, so anyone younger than 11 could read it too, but they probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much.


I love the characters, especially Skulduggery Pleasant, who is so delightfully fun; .... Stephanie is also very funny, and extremely likable and easy to relate to, although her character is a bit stereotypical – a young girl who always loves stories of magic and wishes she was magic, then finds out that magic does exist, and what’s more, she can do it!


Although it is not particularly well written, the exciting plot and the interesting characters make up for it, and altogether it is a very enjoyable book that is great for light reading before bedtime, although you might find yourself reading it all day it is so good! [I rate this book 4.5 out of 5]

Christopher, from University College School London

Skulduggery Pleasant is a fantasy novel about a magical world within our own, with spells, monsters, evil sorcerers and, of course, a living skeleton. The book is really appealing to kids of all ages 11+. Why? It’s full of non-stop action, violence and magic. That’s why. It’s what we like.


The story begins with the funeral of Gordon Edgley, a children’s writer. His niece Stephanie attends with her slightly boring and quirky family and spots a weird man in a tan overcoat with huge sunglasses. That man is Skulduggery Pleasant. Soon she finds out that she has inherited Gordon’s estate but when she stays there for the night, a man breaks in and attacks her. Then, Skulduggery comes in and saves her. With his disguise off, she sees that he isn’t a man, but a living skeleton. He then explains that magic is real and that there was a secret war many years ago between sorcerers and he was killed. Somehow he pulled his bones together again, rejoined the fight and won. Then he became a detective. Stephanie, though shocked by this, wants to learn more and joins him.


The real action starts there. They travel around Dublin, meeting other magical people. A new war seems to be starting, caused by Nefarian Serpine, the sorcerer that killed Skulduggery all those years ago. The heroes gather together to fight Serpine and it all builds into an action-filled climax.


Skulduggery Pleasant is a really good book, not just because of the action, but that Skulduggery can be quite funny. Being the wisecracking detective that he is, it livened the book up and made you have a few laughs. The story is good. It can be very imaginative at times and some bits made me think that this is a clever idea. There are some nice twists on some conventional monsters such as vampires and trolls.


It isn’t a long, drawn out story that you would expect from a book of its size, but a quick, pacy, roller coaster ride of a story. There’s never a dull moment in this book, which I quite liked. Nearly all 370 pages were filled with something exiting or funny.


The story, being so action filled, seemed to be missing something - description. It doesn’t have too much of it. However, it seems that the amazing dialogue and action fills in for everything.


The magical world of Skulduggery Pleasant is in ours but it is hidden and only those who know it exists can find it. The characters in this magical world can be very imaginative as well as the concept of magic. There are two paths of magic; one is more aggressive and powerful while the other takes a slower route, learning to influence the elements. I liked that idea.


Skulduggery Pleasant is a fun book. It can really capture the imagination with magic and a living skeleton detective. You can really love Skulduggery for his wit and willing to do good even though he’s dead. The story is gripping, with good amounts of action and jokes.


A really good read.

Daisy, from Hampstead School London

I thought that Skulduggery Pleasant was an amazing book for children to read at the age of 10 and upward. It is one of those books that you can really get into and it certainly gets your heart going in some parts. I will give the book a 10 out of 10 because it is a compulsive page-turner and it will make you sit on the edge of your seat. This book could easily be read in three days or maybe even less. There is a second book called Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire, which I recommend that you read and follow the quest of Skulduggery Pleasant!!!! 

Felix, from University College School London

Skulduggery Pleasant is a funny, exciting, pacy and action packed novel, which often leaves you on a cliffhanger wanting to read more, though it lacks emotion. It is written slightly blandly and in some parts is slightly mundane but has a good plot with a lot of suspense in parts which work to great effect as it makes you want to read on.


The story’s main character is Stephanie, who is left a house by her strange uncle in his will. When staying there one night alone, a man breaks in and tries to kill her in his search for the ‘key’. However Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton and wizard, breaks into the house and saves her. Together they try to find out who is behind this and why the person wanted to break into the house. Their search leads them to conclude that the evil magician Nefarian Serpentine is searching for the key to lead them to a mythical weapon which can destroy everything, called the Sceptre of the Ancients. They group up with some fellow wizards and warriors and try to hunt down Serpentine and foil his plan.


The main character is Stephanie who is an unassuming, normal teenage girl. She starts off determined but slightly big-headed, but during the story she starts to learn magic and she changes her name and through the story becomes more mature and builds together an inner type of confidence. Skulduggery is a clever detective who lacks emotion in some parts and is slightly impatient with Stephanie at the start of the story. However, during the story they build together a close bond of friendship and security. Nefarian Serpentine is a cunning, power-mad man who uses every possible mean to achieve his goal, including torture, murder and betrayal of his own supporters and others. Other important characters are Tanith Low, a very clever and agile magician, the elders, who rule the wizarding world, China Sorrows, a beautiful but untrustworthy woman, Mr Bliss, a powerful man who shows no real loyalty to anybody, and Ghastly Bespoke, Skulduggery’s loyal friend.


This is a good book to read if you like action and adventure. It has some very good parts which are pacy and exciting (especially at the end) but there are also several bits (especially at the start) which are sometimes boring and bland. This is a good pacy book but lacks emotion. It is written in a slightly sarcastic but humorous style so I think it would be best suited for children 8-12. I would rate this 6/10.

Joshua, from University College School London

Skulduggery Pleasant is one heck of a book. Fast-paced, action-packed and brimming with excitement, this is definitely the best novel of 2007. Some of the reviews on the weRead website were quite bad and I was wondering if they had been reviewing a different book. The Skulduggery Pleasant that  read was a great deal better than the other reviewers said it was.


The main character in the book is Stephanie Edgley. She helps Skulduggery Pleasant after her Uncle’s death. They have many adventures, stealing paperwork, killing vampires and zombies and destroying evil. Other characters that are worth noting are: Serpine, an evil man with a red hand that can kill people if he wants it to - he is Skulduggery’s enemy; Mr. Bliss, who is meant to work for the Elders, the people who govern the magical world - although Mr. Bliss’s loyalties change, you are never really sure where his real ones lie; Tanith Low, [who] is well apt at using sword and is chosen to help Skulduggery by Mr. Bliss. China Sorrows is another important character. She is a beautiful, but untrustworthy woman who, for a short while, imprisons Stephanie. Ghastly Bespoke is one of Skulduggery’s best friends and companions. He is also a tailor. All of these characters play an important role in creating this magnificent book.


In conclusion, I cannot think of anything wrong with this book. A complete and utter page-turner, it is extremely addictive! All I can say is that I want more!!!


A definite 10/10. A recommendation for anyone.  

Joshua, from University College School London

When I first saw this book my sister was reading a few years ago, I thought that it didn’t look particularly good; however as soon as I’d started reading a few pages of the book, I realised just how good it was. The sarcasm and wit of the main character Skulduggery (a detective who is a skeleton) was just like the author who has exactly the same kind of humour. I wouldn’t say that the humour in this book is the kind which will make you roll around on the floor crying in laughter, but it is very funny in its own way. The plot is about a girl whose uncle died and she inherits his possessions; at the funeral she meets the detective whom she learns to trust and they slowly start to make friends. She is given an insight into this fantasy world where skeletons can live and people can cast magic. She and her newly-made friends have to save the world from complete annihilation. 


As soon as I had read the book I went out to the local bookstore and bought the second one. I would definitely recommend this book to people in-between the ages of 9-13, and I would give it a rating of about 8/10, and I have already recommended it to some of my friends. I would say that it does build up to a great ending with ‘the uncovering of truth’ and some great realistic action scenes (not counting using magic).


To conclude I would say this is a great book and I would definitely recommend it. I hope that you do read it as it is a mixture of sarcastic wit, action, sci-fi, adventure, thriller, and detective; it doesn’t matter what type of book you like, it is every category! 

Kate, from The Henrietta Barnett School London

I found myself confused about Skulduggery Pleasant. To begin with, I found this exciting and compelling; however, gradually, I began to lose interest and towards the end, I found it quite a burden to get through.


The plot was immature and very unconvincing. I appreciate that it is not supposed to be realistic, however I thought more effort could have gone into making it more believable.


Stephanie, your average twelve-year-old, has just discovered that her late uncle may have had a more sinister and magic past than meets the untrained eye. Stephanie is then forced to discover the secrets, after being nearly murdered while being left alone in her inherited house. Along with a walking, talking, revived-from-the-dead skeleton (Skulduggery Pleasant), Stephanie is introduced to the ‘thrilling’ world of magic, Hollow Men and the Sceptre.


Surprisingly to me, Stephanie was rather unfazed by the whole idea of spending time with a fire-ball-producing skeleton and involves herself in rather ‘normal’ and monotonous conversations, which I found rather confusing; I on the other hand, would have screamed and made an as quick a getaway as possible! Which makes this book feel rather unimaginative for me. However there were witty comments and general laugh-out-loud moments in the book. “That'll teach him to underestimate stupid people” is one of my favourites! 


I did not overly dislike this book; however it came across as rather mediocre. I think obvious improvements could have been made to make it less heavy on the reader and more compelling; however I enjoyed the beginning and general feel of the novel. But I do feel that this book is definitely more suited to a younger audience than my own age and reading level.

Lucy, from Hampstead School London

I was reading Skulduggery Pleasant and I thought it was amazing. It was one of those books which you pick up to read and get stuck into. It is a real page-turner. I would mark this book as one of the best books I have ever read!! This book had me on the edge of my seat most of the way through. I DID NOT WANT THIS BOOK TO END BUT I DID NOT WANT TO STOP READING IT!!!!!!  I also went out and read the next book of the series which was called Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire and that too was FAB. I am just hoping Mr Landy is at this moment writing another one in the series!!!!


Oscar, from University College School London

When Stephanie Edgley’s uncle dies she inherits his house and, quite by accident, comes into contact with the mysterious Skulduggery Pleasant. He, an animate skeleton for the last few hundred years, introduces her to a world  of magic and excitement and of hollow men and necromancy. Together they try and find out the reason why the evil Nefarain Serpine is looking for the supposedly imaginary Sceptre of the Ancients.


The dialogue (especially between Stephanie and Skulduggery) is clever, very funny and certainly one of the best things about the book. Every comment is thought about and this keeps the story moving at a very fast pace. Although Skulduggery is obviously far from normal (being a few bones held together by magic) he does still have many ordinary and admirable qualities due to his very sharp wit and exceptional intelligence. However Stephanie is our way into the bizare world in the book and, despite having more courage than most, is very ordinary (apart from owning a massive house of course).


The book feels, as the first couple of Harry Potters did, like a gentle opening of a door to a world full of magic hidden under a completely ordinary layer. However this is written with such fun and spirit that it makes it entirely unique. A wonderfully enjoyable read for anybody.