My first reread of 2022 was Bedlam by Derek Landy, the 12th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I’ve been absolutely loving rereading this whole series!
I read this the first time through in May of 2020, so if you want to see that review click here, but in this reread I was, of course, able to get so much more from the book.
First things first. Omen. What a cutie! He’s such an innocent little lad, so unlike Val. And yet he’s so strong. He really takes initiative in this book in helping his brother and Val and Skulduggery to defeat whatever evil they’re up against this week. Seeing his character development from book 9 to here has been lovely, seeing him getting stronger, smarter, and just more confident.
I loved how he approached Abyssinia and her gang because he needed to. Because it would save people. And on that note I adored how when the two teams were fighting, as soon as it was sorcerers vs mortals they banded together? In the most uneasy alliance ever but it was an alliance nonetheless. And they never even spoke about it! It was just cute haha.
There was actually a lot less Skulduggery than usual in this instalment. And whilst I did miss him, it did allow for us to explore Val on her own a little more as well as some of the other characters we follow. We have some longstanding faves back this time including Fletcher and Tanith. And I’m so glad we got more time with them!
Valkyrie is dealing with a lot in this second season of books. Heavy PTSD as well as a myriad of other mental health issues. The topic of addiction, in two strains, is covered really well here. At least in my limited opinion. Val is using it as a coping mechanism for day to day struggles. Not just saving the world, but also for getting out of the damn house. Out of bed. She’s really beating herself up still and lets others damage her too because she believes she deserves it. Landy is really bringing through a deep discussion on PTSD throughout these later books.
We return in this book to a topic that was covered near the end of the first season, and that is power imbalance. The power that is held by police and prison guards, and how that is abused and manipulated by those on a power trip and with an agenda. This goes a little harder than the previous time Landy covered this topic, and that’s saying something considering how he approached Davina Marr and her power trip.
President Flannery is still a fucking moron in this book, but that’s good because he’s basically supposed to represent Donald Trump. After reading an extra in one of my hardbacks it turns out that Landy hadn’t actually intended to add President Trump into the books. He wrote Flannery thinking how ridiculous it would be to have a US president like that and then… well yeah. Apparently Flannery had actually featured more originally in his plot for the series and he had to change everything around because it was a little too on the nose. I’ll always wonder what that original series would’ve looked like. Damn Trump.
I will say that Valkyrie is a little overpowered right now. She seems to be gaining new skills as and when she needs them. Literally. She can just absorbs someone else’s power and use that herself. It’s super cool but also a little bit much and seems quite convenient. I’m just waiting to see what Landy does with it.
On CAWPILE I gave this book: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 8 which gives a score of 7.71 and a rating of 4*.
I’m still really enjoying the series, but I can’t lie it’s not quite captured the magic of those first books. Despite that I will definitely be rereading this series in the future! And of course I’m ridiculously excited for Until The End. It’s stupidly close now and my little heart can’t handle it.