Review: Skulduggery Pleasant: Dead or Alive.

Bestselling author, Derek Landy, returns with the fourteenth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series.

Reader beware!

At around 600 pages, tackling this book is an undertaking.

Then again, the length of the previous books has not put off Landy’s legions of fans.

Initially published as a series of three trilogies, the story arc was rounded off in the ninth book in 2014, with the evil Darquesse finally being vanquished by our heroes, Valkyrie Cain and the sharply dressed skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant.

However, a new series was launched in 2017 featuring the old favourites, the old antagonists plus some new characters.

This is the fourth in the series of five.

Considering that Valkyrie has grown up and is now in her twenties, Landy introduced some new teenage protagonists, and retained the characters who survived through the first nine books.

In this installment, the near-end of humanity draws near. Plus, more frighteningly, end-of-year exams are approaching for Omen, Never and Auger.

Landy throws time travel into the mix, and Valkyrie is given a glimpse of a future about twenty years’ time in which the Faceless Ones are in power, most of humanity is enslaved and sorcerers’ power enables the domination. Her sister, Alice, has transformed into a swaggering bully who is part of the powerful elite.

Skulduggery and co decide that drastic action is required to prevent this future from transpiring and plan to assassinate the charismatic leader. Maybe not their smartest move.

It’s a fast paced book. However, it covers multiple threads and would leave those who are unfamiliar with the series and characters flummoxed. I don’t recommend that those who have never read any of the series to start with this one. Nevertheless, it is full of Landy’s trademark wit and sparkling dialogue, and I therefore encourage those who have not read any of his works to sample the superb first book in the series (see review here ), or one of the many novellas set in that universe. 

The humour had me smiling in places. However, as his fourteenth book, I was left with the feeling that I had seen it all before and found the set-up a bit strained.

One for the fans.

Title: Skulduggery Pleasant: Dead or Alive.
Author: Derek Landy
Publisher: Harper Collins, $19.99
Publication Date: 21 April 2021
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780008386313
For ages: 11+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

May 20, 2021 at 02:06AM Jo-Ann S