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    Review of SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT by Derek Landy

    HarperCollins, April 2007

    When her uncle dies, twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley is surprised to find she's inherited the bulk of his estate. Along with the estate, she somehow inherits her uncle's close friend, Skulduggery Pleasant, plus what turn out to be her uncle's enemies. Her uncle might have been known for writing fantasy fiction, but Skulduggery lets Stephanie know that a lot of that fiction was barely disguised truth. Before she knows it, Stephanie is caught up in magic, and in a secret war waged between those wanting to retain the status quo and those hoping to bring ack the horrible ancient gods--gods who would make short work of humanity.

    Author Derek Landy doesn't spend much time on the magic system--quickly giving us the outline of elemental and adept magic and the power of names. Instead, he keeps his primary focus on action and adventure.

    Once Stephanie receives her inheritance, the story quickly becomes a series of adventures as Stephanie and Skulduggery attempt to uncover the secret of the scepter, hold off fierce vampires, battle hollow men, and ultimately face the elemental mage who murdered Skulduggery and his whole family so many years before. Along the way, they and their allies have to confront not just enemies, but friends who betray them, definitely complicating their task.

    Landy lightens action with clever dialogue between Skulduggery and Stephanie, reminding us that Stephanie may be on her way toward becoming a superhero of sorts, but she is still, after all, a pre-teen girl. Although not detailed, Landy's accounts of the fights do reflect his martial arts experience, making these seem vivid and real.

    SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT targets the young adult market but its humor, character complexity, and charming dialogue make it an enjoyable experience for the adult reader as well.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/29/07

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