This review is spoiler free.
“‘Only a heathen would bring a gun to a swordfight.’
‘And only a moron would bring a sword to a gunfight.'”
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant
Published: 2017, by Harper Collins Children’s Books.
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Adventure, Middle Grade, Paranormal
Contains: Violence, Anger, Blood/Gore, Mutilation, Torture, Death
‘Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire’ continues the Skulduggery Pleasant story, where Skulduggery and Valkyrie are facing a new enemy: Baron Vengeous, who is determined to bring back the terrifying Faceless Ones and is crafting an army of evil to help him. Once Vengeous is on the loose, dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland. Now everyone is out to kill Valkyrie, and the daring detective duo faces its biggest challenge yet.
Skulduggery Pleasant was a huge part of my childhood, growing up around the series containing mages, magic and a hell of a lot of wit and humour. I adored this series as a kid, so I thought I’d return to the tale I loved so much as an adult. And I’m so glad that I did.
Skulduggery continues to make for a brilliant protagonist, continuing his streak of fearless wit and humour to keep your spirits up in the face of danger. He’s an incredibly creative and entertaining character, and you can’t help but fall into the trap of trusting him and idolising the skeleton.
Valkyrie makes for another great protagonist, being fearless whilst also trying to balance her two lives: Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery’s sharp-tongue sidekick, and Stephanie Edgley, the everyday teenage girl. Her life is absolutely fascinating, and you can’t help but envy her abilities and strength in the face of danger.
The antagonist in this novel, Baron Vengeous, didn’t pull enough weight as the other characters, however, as he appeared on occasion to provide some bland villain spiel before disappearing again until the final battle. Nevertheless, there was enough entertainment from the detective duo to make up for it.
Derek Landy’s writing style is full of humour and wit when you least expect it, making for a brilliantly quick read. There’s no slowing down with this novel, continuing to raise the stakes even when the story is reaching its end, leaving you dying to pick up the next book.
Overall, I loved this novel, just as much as I did when I was a kid, and I already have the third instalment lined up to continue the series very soon.