Until the End, a review

Until the End is the 15th and final book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy. And wow. Oh wow. I have to actually figure out how I’m going to put my thoughts into words for this review. Wish me luck!

This is the first Skulduggery Pleasant book, that I’ve been reading with the Dead Famous Readalong gang where it’s not a reread for me! All the drama, this book was damn wild. There was so much new that was going on, brand new to the series, as well as threads being pulled together from the past 14 books. I loved seeing “easter eggs” from earlier books as well as still learning more about this world and these characters! I don’t think this is the last we’ll have seen of Skulduggery Pleasant just yet.

Well damn. Well. Damn. This was a helluva book. What do I even say? How do I even not spoil this? SO much happened. SO many twists and turns. I read this all in one sitting on the 13th April (because my Waterstones may or may not have broken embargo and let me pick up my pre-order a day early) sitting up till 0530 in the morning. But I just couldn’t put it down! I needed to know what Landy had done!

I think the way Landy handled the *topic from the end of the last book* (Landy really hates spoilers) was done incredibly well. There was a lot of collaboration, foreplaning, and it just showed how much this group all care about each other and how much of a little family they’ve become.

There was a great Doctor Who reference (can it even be called a reference if it’s an entire replicated plot?) that was so much fun to read. Landy can’t have planned that, but I love that he saw the opportunity and took it.

There were a lot of major plot points throughout where Landy did an amazing job at writing how the public at large would react to them. Both mortal and mages. It felt incredibly accurate and if it ever happened irl I know it would turn out like that! A mixture of good reactions, bad ones, and instinctive ones made in the moment.

Omen, of course, was a highlight of this book as he always is. We saw him develop even more and become an even stronger character in himself. It’s honestly been so lovely seeing him develop and I’ve loved how Landy handled his story arc. Him and Auger have had a fascinating storyline with the prophecy and their awful parents and I definitely want to see more from him in the future.

There were a couple of negatives. The first was one of the big bads of the story. There were two this time around, and one was amazing. Pretty much perfect. Mind blowing, everything. Twas great. The second one though? We didn’t spend enough time learning about this “big bad”, and so it ended up that… I didn’t really care? Because we knew next to nothing about why it was happening or anything about them.

And that leads on to my other negative, there was a very convenient plot point. Landy kinda backed himself into a corner with that one, and so without changing other aspects of the plot I can’t see any other way out. But at the same time it felt like he’d actually planned this all out, and that was disappointing. It was just such an easy fix, and that’s really not what I’ve come to expect from these books. But it’s the first time that we’ve had that from the SP series so I’ll let him off this once.

On CAWPILE I rated this one: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9. Giving a score of 9.00 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, parental abuse, body horror, gore, violence, blood, kidnapping, medical trauma, police brutality, panic attacks, torture, gun violence, mental illness, abandonment.

Although I had one or two issues with the book, it was just so much fun overall that I really couldn’t bring myself to mark it down! If we ever get more from this world I think Landy has set everything up really well, there are questions I still want answers to and characters I still want more from. Let’s just cross our fingers that we see some more!

The Skulduggery Pleasant Grimoire, a reread review

Yup, we’ve got another Skulduggery Pleasant reread! This time it’s the Grimoire by Derek Landy. A summary of all 14 books (and all the short stories) so far, with additional story worked through it. If you’d like, you can see my original review.

My main thoughts on this are…. that I feel the same about this as the first time I read through it. Exactly the same. Kinda weirded me out not gunna lie.

There are a fair few issues in this book. There are spelling mistakes, there are editing mistakes (as in sentences that don’t actually make sense) as well as contradictions in the timeline within the book itself. There’s even a little letter that falls out of the book when you start it forewarning you about this. It’s a pity.

Despite that though I do really enjoy this book. It’s a really fun recap of everything that’s happened in the series so far and getting to see a grown up Val (and a “grown up” Skulduggery) reacting to their early-book shenanigans with the insight of a few more years is really amusing.

I also adore the separate new story that runs throughout this book. It adds an extra new dimension to the world and really brings the archivists (who are writing about Skulduggery and Val’s adventures) into the story as well as adding information about Skulduggery and more. I really really hope that this new stuff is added into the final book!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 6, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 6, and Enjoyment: 8, giving a 7.29 score and a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, PTSD, mentions of torture, religion, loss of loved ones.

This is such a fun read and I’m super excited to delve into Until The End very very soon!! Have you read this series?

Dead or Alive, a reread review

Dead of Alive by Derek Landy is the 14th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and the penultimate book. I first read this in April 2021 and so it’s the book that’s had the least time between first read and reread in the Dead Famous Readalong for me. If you’d like you can see my original review from the first read through.

This book still fucks me up. So badly. So so badly.

It is SUCH a penultimate book, despite the fact that a lot of our questions are wrapped up and brought to a close in this book, there are still a million and one questions left on my tongue and I really have no clue how Landy is actually going to answer them all in one last book.

There is character development in this book in leaps and bounds. So many of the newer characters that we’ve been following really come into their own in this book, as well as seeing our longstanding characters develop as they learn and grow in the face of their troubles.

Omen is fucking adorable and I will stand by that till the end of time. He’s such a little bean and I adore reading from his point of view and learning more about him. He deserves so much more! I also loved reading from the perspective of Militsia, she is so good for Valkyrie and it’s lovely to see their relationship.

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks that we got to the time between the two seasons of the series. It adds a lot of context for where Val was mentally during this time and fills in the gaps nicely. I just wish it had been a little more interwoven through the whole second season.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 6, Enjoyment: 8, which gives an overall score of 7.71 and a 4* rating.

This is probably a less objective review of Dead or Alive than when I read it the first time. And I know that’s a bit of a ridiculous statement considering I’m usually just adoring the books the first time through. But because we’re so close to the last book I was just vibing with all the ridiculousness through this book!

Highlight here to see trigger warnings: violence, death, gun violence, gore, PTSD, police brutality, murder, outing, homophobia

Next up? Until the End.

Seasons of War, a review

Seasons of War by Derek Landy is the 13th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and a reread for me along with the Dead Famous Readalong. If you want to see my original review, click here, if you just wanna see my reread thoughts then scroll on!

This read was what I like to call a helluva ride. We had SO much in here. We have different dimensions, Tanith joining up with the Dead Men, Val dealing with her PTSD in multiple awful ways and being forced into good ones, and Omen being adorkable as always.

I loved being in the alternate dimension through this book. It let Landy play with bringing back characters and playing out alternative events without screwing with the established timeline, as well as letting us see how the characters would react to things after they’ve had time to grow and develop compared to their younger selves earlier on in the series.

Our protagonist, Valkyrie Cain, has been through a lot by this point. She’s been battling monsters and getting in magical fights since she was 12 years old, and what I love about Landy is that he’s had this impact her. She’s not just brushed it off and gotten on with things. Or at least, that only lasts for the duration of the battle. After that? Well she has a normal reaction. Meaning severe trauma and PTSD. And she tries to deal with it on her own, that goes about as well as you’d expect. I love that Landy addresses this, he includes it in the narrative and has it impact how she reacts in other battles and situations, and that’s just so rarely seen from our badass characters.

I also really enjoyed the portrayal of Darquesse after the events of the last book (look this is damn difficult to do without spoilers by book 13). The day to day thoughts and concerns of those who worship her brought some much needed levity to the book and did a great job of breaking up the more serious scenes.

Omen, as always, was so lovely to read from. He started out so desperate to have adventures and ended up having the same reaction most of us probably would: dear god get me out of here. But at the same time he’s such an adorable bean that he doesn’t want to leave people in trouble. He also immediately thinks the best of people, and in relation to a certain someone (no really, unless you’ve read it I can’t say) I think he’s making a mistake. But I guess we’ll see.

On CAWPILE I rated this reread: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 9 which gives an overall score of 8.14 and a 4.5* rating.

I’m super excited to delve into my reread of the penultimate Skulduggery novel and I’m so excited and nervous for the final book! Ironically this is actually publishing on the day of the last books release (Until the End, out 14th April 2022) and I most likely have been reading that book all day! Even when I maybe should’ve been at work! Have you been keeping up to date with the series? Let me know your thoughts!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, war, murder, violence, grief, PTSD[end].

Bedlam, a reread review

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.

Midnight reread, a review

My final read of 2021 (yes, I’m finally finished with last years reviews!!! – totally isn’t March…) was Midnight by Derek Landy, the 11th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. And with that name is anyone surprised that I was reading this right up until 2340 on the 31st December 21? No? Didn’t think so.

I’ve been rereading all of the Skulduggery books along with the Dead Famous Readalong and whilst this is the 11th book, it’s the second book in the revamped series.

This means that we’ve had time to get back into the world, and now we’re into the nitty gritty.

Of course, as always, I can’t tell you too much about what’s going on because #spoilers but this had one of my favourite plot points in the new series and I adored rereading it. I had remembered parts from the first read but this definitely added some more comprehension and was just so much fun.

This isn’t the most wow-ing of the SP books. Whilst I absolutely adored the smaller scale plotline that we had, many people won’t be keen on this. But it’s right up my alley. It gives us more character development as well as a few more insights into the worldbuilding and I adore that sort of book. Especially when I’m already invested in a series.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 8, which gives an average of 8.14 and a 4 star rating.

As I said for me this was a really intriguing book, but for those who are used to the big and dramatic books we’ve had so far in the series, just be warned this is a little different.

Resurrection, a review

In the Dead Famous Readalong we’re finally onto the second season of the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy with Resurrection! Val is back, and shit is still weird.

As with all the Skulduggery books so far, this is a reread for me. When I read this the first time around I gave it 5 stars. I mean Val and Skul-man were back! What else was I supposed to give this?! But second time around? Well I’m a little older and able to be a little bit more critical.

I adored the character development that we got in this book. Valkyrie has been through a lot in the previous 9 books, and now we get to see her struggling with PTSD. In my (limited) viewpoint it’s handled pretty well. i.e. she’s damn struggling.

There has been a lot, however, that felt like it needed to be shoehorned in. This series wasn’t supposed to continue past book 9 and Landy needed to build enough in this book to span us onwards. Whilst sometimes it was done cleverly, there were also some points where it jolted. And it felt that there were a lot of Valdugery ship moments. Which I am 100% NOT here for, just to be clear.

But I adore Omen, he’s such a cute bean. And there is a lot better representation in these books (which I’ve learnt after scouring reviews is because of some backlash again one of the books in his Demon Road series: Desolation). We have a lot more in the way of characters of colour and various sexualities and genders. It’s not done perfectly, but I have the privilege of hindsight to know that it gets better, so please do stick with it!

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 8, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 8, which gives an average of 7.43 and a 4* rating.

I’m still really looking forward to continuing on with this series and I am SUPER excited to read the final book!

The Dying of the Light, a review

This is the ninth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy and was originally intended to be the last. Which means this was supposed to be the big finale. And oh boy did Landy deliver.

This is an amazing “last” book. So many people died. My heart was broken so many times. And this is a reread for me! I’ve read this book a few times, but most recently I’ve been doing a full series reread along with the Dead Famous Readalong. So this was impacting me when I already knew the story.

We have sharp twists and turns, where nothing is anything like it seems whilst we try to avoid the “big evil” (look I’m trying to be spoiler free), and Landy engineers this in a way that wraps up so much about the world and all those loose ends that we’ve had floating around from the previous books.

Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t perfect. Some things didn’t quite make sense, with the plot being a little choppy in places, but regardless this was still a fun read.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave this book: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 8. That gives an overall score of 8.57 which is a 4 star book.

It’s not perfect. But this was a good book and even better when knowing we still had more of the world to delve into.

The Last Stand of Dead Men, a review

We’re back with another Skulduggery Pleasant review! Because of course we are 😂

A book about war, betrayal, torture, death, and suffering. I loved it! This series is increasingly hard to talk about whilst trying to stay spoiler free. I adore the Dead Men and the stories we’ve heard about them in previous books so it was so much fun to have Val join this group on their escapades.

In this book I think we have the most POVs we’ve had so far in a Skulduggery book, which serves to really flesh out the book and the world even further. Although I won’t lie, Grandmaster Ping was… creepy. Poor Scapegrace (and Thrasher). This book also expanded into the world outside of Ireland (and the UK). It’s still primarily set on our Isles but it’s nice to learn a little bit more about the wider world.

On CAWPILE I gave this book: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9 which is an overall of 9.14, a 5 star read.

This is one of my favourite of the Skulduggery books, and I think that’s totally cause of the Dead Men! So excited to continue this series reread.

Armageddon Outta Here, a review

Yes, yes, another Skulduggery book. This is a collection of short stories and I was reading them chronologically as I did my reread of the whole series. So this is just where my reread finished 😂

This is such a fun selection of stories. We get some of Skulduggery and Gordon’s interactions before he passed away (Gordon, not Skulduggery 😂), as well as some of the stories of the Dead Men that we’ve heard about in passing. And then of course we get more stories of Skulduggery and Valkyrie together through the years.

On CAWPILE I gave this collection: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 9 which gives a score of 9 and a 5 star rating!

I can’t speak about all the stories, because they’re so short that I would just be ruining them for you. But if you enjoy the Skulduggery Pleasant books then I highly recommend this collection. It’s so much fun and adds so much to the world!