Ages 12 and up
HarperCollins, 2007, 978-0-06-123115-5
Stephanie is genuinely sorry when she hears that her uncle Gordon has died. They always got along very well and he was so much fun to be with. She is nevertheless astonished when she finds out that her uncle has left her his large house and a great deal of money. She is now an heiress. Both at her uncle’s funeral and at the reading of his will Stephanie briefly meets a very peculiar person, a friend of her uncle’s. It is only when she spends the night alone in Uncle Gordon’s house however that she finds out how truly peculiar this friend is.
Stephanie is quietly exploring the house when someone breaks in, demands that she gives him the key, and then threatens her life. At this point the mysterious friend arrives on the scene to save her. Whenever Stephanie has seen him he has always had his face and head hidden with a scarf, glasses, and a hat. During their flight from Stephanie’s attackers Stephanie discovers that her rescuer is a skeleton. His name is Skulduggery Pleasant and he died a long time ago. By sheer force of will he rose from the dead to pursue a career as a detective and to avenge himself on the man who killed him. Skilled in elemental magic Skulduggery was a good friend of Gordon’s and he is convinced that a very evil sorcerer called Serpine is trying to get hold of a terrible super weapon. He is also sure that somehow Gordon knew about and hid the weapon, hoping to keep it out of Serpine’s hands.
Now Stephanie finds herself plunged into a world which, until a short while ago, she didn’t even know existed. Often running for her life, and often unsure about whom to trust, Stephanie is at the same time quite taken with this strange world and its strange, often magical people. Most of all she is growing very fond of the animated skeleton who cannot help making totally inappropriate remarks at the most inappropriate times. Stephanie finds herself wanting to belong to this world even if it is dangerous and she cannot resist wanting to be a part of something which is bigger than herself.
This gripping, superbly written, and often oddly humorous adventure will keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats from the first page to the last. Riddled with magic and ancient lore, but driven by good old fashioned greed and a lust for revenge, the characters will keep readers guessing and wondering what strange event is going to happen next for nothing is the way one would expect it to be.
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