|Image: HarperCollins Publishers|
Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley is standing at her uncle's graveside when she notices a figure wearing a trench coat, hat and scarf standing under a tree away from the crowd. This was curious on such a hot day. It got even curiouser when, later, she escapes to the study at her uncle's huge home to avoid all the disingenuous "mourners" to find herself face-to-face with the gentleman. It seems Stephanie's uncle spoke of her often to him. And, after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he disappears abruptly.
Days later, she has to accompany her parents to the reading of her uncle's will where she learns that she has inherited the bulk of her uncle's fortune as well as his home. The strange man was also named in the will and Stephenie learns his name—Skulduggery Pleasant. Soon after, Skulduggery rescues Stephanie from an intruder. It is then she discovers that the trench coat, hat and scarf were disguising the fact that he is a skeleton!
It seems that the horror stories Stephanie's uncle wrote were inspired by true events. He and Skulduggery often worked together to solve mysteries and now, Skulduggery was going to find her uncle's killer. Stephanie does not intend to be left on the sidelines. She is in for one heck of a ride!
The voice captivates from page one. Stephanie is just a terrific main character— smart, brave, not easily rattled and quite, quite stubborn as Skulduggery quickly learns. She's also dryly hilarious. The banter between her and Skulduggery had me laughing out loud often. The action is fast, furious and quite violent as the bad guys here are called The Faceless and their leader, Serpine are after a scepter with which he will rule the world. So stakes are high.
It was so much fun to revisit Skulduggery Pleasant! I cannot recall when or how I came upon it. The book was originally published in 2007. I probably read a review. I was neither blogging or on Goodreads then; but the book stuck with me. I am pretty sure I read it with my ears, but might not have, though I did read books 2 - 5 with my ears. I had to send to the U.K. for books 3 - 5 as I couldn't find them here. The audiobooks, narrated by Rupert Degas, are spectacular. Degas' deadpan delivery and distinct character voices compliment this intense tale.
Skulduggery Pleasant was Landy's debut and he followed it up with eight additional sequels followed by a second series. I have a bit of catching up to do! Readers who love horror and fantasy will gobble this up and be back for more, so make sure you have the rest of the series on standby.