Skulduggery Pleasant – Playing With Fire by Derek Landy

20 Jun

Stephanie Edgley has been having a rough time as of late.

After her uncle’s death, twelve-year-old Stephanie meets Skulduggery Pleasant, a fast-talking, snappy dressing detective who just happens to be a walking, talking skeleton. He tells Stephanie that she is directly descendant from the Ancients, people who used control magic.

Under Skulduggery’s tutelage, Stephanie’s skills have grown. She is an Elemental, able to control Air, Earth, Water and Fire to her will. While still not as skilled as Skulduggery, she’s getting better. Which is a good thing; she’s going to need all her skills for a new evil that is threatening the world.

Evil sorcerer, Baron Vengeous, has hatched a plan to bring back the Faceless Ones; Gods who ruled the Earth with dark magic and great cruelty. Stephanie and Skulduggery previously defeated the Baron’s boss, the horrible Serpine. But the Baron has a surprise in store for our hero’s far nastier than Serpine.

The Baron plans to resurrect the Grotesquery. Part man, part Frankenstein mishmash of mythical creatures and all evil. If brought back to life, the Grotesquery will call the Faceless Ones back to earth and then everyone will be done for.

Skulduggery and Stephanie will need all their magic, all their allies, to defeat this most monstrous of enemies.

And they only have three days to do it.

I am a huge fan of Landy’s first Skulduggery book. I’ve given copies out to friends and family and have told everyone I know about it. It was one of my favourite books of 2007.

It was funny, fun, frantic and incredibly fantastic. It was also self-contained. So, needless to say, I was a little worried about a second book in the series though extremely excited at the same time. Would Playing With Fire be just as funny, as fast paced and fun?

The answer is a loud and resounding yes. In fact, Playing With Fire is better than Landy’s first offering. Landy manages to write a dark gothic fantasy that is laugh out loud funny and also incredibly original, fresh and new.

Landy has managed to do something that many authors have not: transcend genres. While this is first and foremost a young adult fantasy, it’s also a noir comedy and can be read by young adults and adults alike.

Landy is a talented writer and has managed to create characters we care about. The relationship between Skulduggery and Stephanie is comic, yes, but also extremely touching. It’s a rare and talented author that can make us laugh in one sentence and then pull our heartstrings in another.

Playing With Fire is an incredible, amazing treat and one hell of a read. It’s also the best young adult book I’ve read in years. If you haven’t read Skulduggery Pleasant, the first book in the series, do so. Then read Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire. You won’t be sorry.

In fact, you’ll be left begging for more. 




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