Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scepter of The Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant #1) by Derek Landy (Review)

Genre:Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Supernatural
Publication.Date  May 1st 2009
Published By:  HarperTrophy | @HarperCollinsCa | Facebook
WebsiteSkulduggery Pleasant | Derek Landy

Scepter of the Ancients - Goodreads
My review copy:Provided by the publisher (thank you!)
Where to get: Barnes and Noble | Amazon  | Book Depository

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant
Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor-tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking, Fire-throwing Skeleton -— as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.
These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.
The end of the world?
Over his dead body.

Previously published as Skulduggery Pleasant

“Think of it as an adventure,” he said brightly. “Why should I do that?” “Because if you don’t, you’ll just become really, really depressed. Trust me. Now hop in!”
 “Every solution to every problem is simple. It’s the distance between the two where the mystery lies.”
“I’ve fought just about every type of opponent you could name,” Tanith said, “but I’ve never been attacked by a tree. Well done.”
 “Serpine is used to the Elders taking forever to make their calm, thought-out decisions,” Tanith said. “So he won’t be expecting anything as amazingly rash and reckless as this.” Ghastly nodded. “That’ll teach him to underestimate stupid people.”
 “What is it?” Stephanie whispered. “That, my dear Valkyrie, is what we call a monster.” She looked at Skulduggery. “You don’t know what it is, do you?” “I told you what it is, it’s a horrible monster. Now shut up before it comes over here and eats us.”
“There’s no such thing as winning or losing. There is won and there is lost, there is victory and defeat. There are absolutes. Everything in between is still left to fight for. Serpine will have won only when there is no one left to stand against him. Until then, there is only the struggle, because tides do what tides do—they turn.”
 “I’m placing you under arrest for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and, I don’t know, possibly littering.

     Reading Scepter of the Ancients by Derek Landy is an unusual experience! Quite unlike anything else I’ve read, although it reminded me of some of my favorite Middle Grade books, like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle or Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne. The easiest way to describe this book would be to say that it’s a mix of Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t do the book justice because Scepter of the Ancients is so much more than just that! Highly amusing, refreshingly unique, adventurous and magicalthis is a really great read

     Gordon Edgely’s sudden death came as a shock to everyone - especially to his 12-year-old niece, Stephenie. Gordon was a writer. His tales of terror and magic were always ranking very high on the bestseller lists. Despite the popularity of his books, not many people attended his funeral, as he didn’t have many friends in the world (let’s just say he wasn’t the nicest person, with all his mean jokes and such). There was, however, one particular attendee, who caught Stephenie’s attention. This mysterious gentleman in the tan overcoat, wide-brimmed hat covering his frizzy hair, and with a scarf carefully wrapped around his face, is no one else but Skulduggery Pleasant, a living skeleton, a mage and a detective. Now Stephenie has become a side-kick to the most extraordinary detective on the planet and together they will try to uncover the mystery behind her uncle’s death. They will also have to face the evil Faceless Ones and find the Scepter of The Ancients – a super powerful weapon that could destroy the world! Nothing in Stephenie’s life will be the same again, say “bye, bye” to normality and prepare for a wild ride into the world filled with magic, walking (and talking) skeletons, ghouls, vampires and a whole lot of other supernatural awesomeness

     Now onto what I thought about this book..
     It was a really good, enjoyable and fast-paced read. There’s so much going on here, sometimes it was hard to keep up with all the action! I admit, when I got this book from HarperCollins Canada, I wasn’t all that excited to start reading it – it looked great, the synopsis intrigued me, but I never thought it would be anything more than a silly Middle Grade story with magic and some cheesy mystery to solve. Obviously, I was wrong! It didn’t take long for me to get totally caught up in the storyDerek Landy’s witty and clever writing style captivates the reader right from the get-go. There’s something insanely fun about this novel that kept me turning the pages – I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to solve the mystery and find the Scepter of the Ancients!

     It’s a children’s book, but I think many adults will get a huge kick out of reading it, too. I’ve heard awesome things about the audiobook version (read by the incredible Rupert Degas), so you might want to consider listening to it together with your kids. As a matter of fact, the audiobook made it to the Goodreads’ best audiobooks list, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

     The characters in this story are… well, fascinating, to put it simply! How often do you get to read about a skeleton-detective with magical powers?! And Stephenie is such an interesting protagonist, too! She’s sassy, brave, curious (maybe even too curious sometimes, with her endless flow of questions!) and absolutely cute. Together they make one extraordinary team and reading about their adventures is worth skipping a meal or two
     Landy’s writing, considering that this was his debut novel, was quite impressive, too. I wouldn’t say that it blew me away, and I definitely feel that some things could have been done better, but it was still better than most of the debut novels out there. I really liked the dialogues between Stephenie and Skulduggery – they were hilarious and so full of character! I was often laughing out loud. 

     Overall, I had a great time reading this book! It was a rich and complex story, filled with unforgettable characters, thrilling escapades and lively sense of adventure. So far there are five books in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and I am looking forward to reading all of them soon!


LoriStrongin said...

Sounds like a cute read! I love a good adventure novel, and Derek sounds like he added a bunch of fun, quirky characters to the mix. Thanks for the fun review!


Munnaza said...

I don't read much Middle Grade fiction, though I do buy a lot of MG books for my cousin, who prefers fantasy MG books to YA fantasy. This book, however, sounds exciting (and the fact that you mentioned Harry Potter, one of my favorite series of all time, only intrigues me further). The characters sound so awesomely quirky, and I love the idea of a skeleton detective! So many aspects of this book just sound original. I'm definitely recommending this to my cousin, and if I get the chance, I'll have to check it out too.

FairyWhispers said...

funny, I've never seen this cover before

lostdog said...

Great review! I've been a fan of the Skulduggery series for a while: they really are a cracking read! There's also a couple of free Skulduggery short stories available to download on Amazon just now if anyone wants a quick taster of the tone of the books.

Jaime Lester said...

I love to go into the children's section of the library sometimes, when I am tired of some of the YA that I have read, and find a good MG book. I have read some truly amazing stories, and I am so glad that I am not afraid of reading below my age level of books. I am 30, and I love YA and MG. I rarely read adult books because I feel like my need for romance, or adventure or spooky stuff is completely fulfilled. This book sounds awesome, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

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