Skulduggery Pleasant: Dark Days by Derek Landy
So it hit me just out of nowhere why I love Skulduggery Pleasant so much. It’s because he IS Sherlock Holmes. If Holmes were a 300-year-old skeleton with magic powers who drives a Bentley, I guess, but those are the levels of awesomeness that we’re talking. No, don’t mind me, fellows, you just go on with your mud wrestling to see who gets to top my literary crush list.
Ah, book number four, the inescapable placeholder. I’m not disappointed, by any means, but this one was lacking something and I think it was mostly because now we’ve been set up with our overarching theme. I assume this will carry us through the next five books, but then I thought the Faceless Ones would be doing that. So maybe this is just a transition book instead of a placeholder…
Anyway. Like I said last time, there are just so many characters to keep straight – Valkyrie and Skulduggery are easy, of course, but there’s also Tanith and China (also pretty easy to remember, though), Ghastly (I always forget who he is), Guild (him, too), Fletcher Renn (my jury’s still kind of out on him, but only because he’s standing between Valkyrie and Skulduggery [yes, I ship it – no, I don’t know how it would work, I mean, he’s a centuries-old skeleton and she’s sixteen, but, I don’t care] and I guess he’s second best so it’s okay) and a whole slew of villains this time (Billy-Ray Sanguine [who is totally growing on me – I never found him to be appealing until his last showdown with Valkyrie in the final pages of this book – suddenly he has a depth that he didn’t have before!], Vaurien Scapegrace [who I NEVER remember – although he had a scene that made me laugh gleefully in this one], Dusk [I swear I didn’t remember that he was a vampire until halfway through the book], Spring-heeled Jack [I still am not entirely sure I know who he is], Remus Crux [who I can never bring myself to believe is a bad guy simply because no one named ‘Remus’ can be all bad], and Scarab [who is new, I think, so it’s not my fault that I didn’t remember him – he didn’t exist before now]). Whew! AND there’s Davina Marr who, again, I didn’t remember, but after her first scene with Valkyrie, I won’t be forgetting soon – she is SUPER UNHINGED. Except she ships it, too, so I’m not sure what that says about me.*
And it seems like I’m forgetting somebody – THERE ARE THAT MANY CHARACTERS. Seriously, it’s like a freaking Dickens novel.
And the plot seemed a little disjointed. I can’t really put my finger on it – I don’t remember this much jumping between narratives, so maybe that was it. Also, there didn’t seem to be very much tension in this one. Despite the big cliffhanger from the last one, I never felt like Skulduggery was in any real danger. I mean, I know I would have complained if it had taken Valkyrie longer to save him (I loved that payoff moment, though, at the end of the book – very nice, Derek!) simply because he’s my favorite character (though I am quote fond of Valkyrie now), but that meant that got resolved fairly quickly and, frankly, pretty easily. But it makes sense if you think of this whole book as a transition – this is all the little, kind of boring (not boring boring – there are SO many fights [and some pretty brutal moments – I do like that Landy quite literally doesn’t pull his punches], but the little details) that have to happen for the epic plots to align correctly.
So I’m anxiously awaiting the next one now – and we get two this year – they’re changing Skulduggery’s release dates to September. Yay!
My rating: B+
My reviews of the previous books in the series:
- Skulduggery Pleasant
- Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire
- Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones
ETA: I forgot! I feel about Valkyrie’s reflection the way Homer Simpson feels about the little guy in the Italian mafia vs. Japanese mafia fight.
Talk about tension! There’s been something not right with her reflection ever since Skulduggery shot it (now THAT was a good scene) and I keep waiting for its big moment to arrive. So far, nothing – and the longer Derek puts it off, the better it’s going to have to be. I hope you’re aware of that, Derek!
Also, why is no one concerned about the ramifications of an imminent character since presumably Valkyrie’s Ancient One blood or whatever it is comes from her father’s side of the family… Skulduggery did say he’s feeling distracted, so maybe he just hasn’t realized it yet? But I feel like that will have something to do with…something…
ETA2: Apparently the idiots over at Fox are blocking the little Simpsons clip I put up there. Yeah, Fox, because now that all 15 people who read this blog saw that 37-second clip I used to make my point, they’re not going to go out and buy all million seasons of The Simpsons on DVD like they were planning on doing. Even though I’m sure they can watch entire episodes for free over at your website or on Hulu and even though the quality of that show really has gone down in the last 10 years, but whatever. Assholes.
So…yeah. Take that, Fox.
*I don’t know if anybody’s read it, but when Valkyrie tells Skulduggery about her and Fletcher, how did it read to you? Because I couldn’t decide if she was embarrassed because it was like telling her favorite uncle about her boyfriend or if she was embarrassed because she was hoping for a different kind of reaction from him. Again, I know it wouldn’t work, but they do have this weird chemistry.