Reviews for Skulduggery Pleasant : Playing With Fire

Kirkus Reviews 2007 March #2
A high-intensity tale shot through with spectacular magic battles, savage mayhem, cool outfits, monsters, hidden doors, over-the-top names, narrow escapes, evil schemes and behavior heroic, ambiguous and really, really bad. When the murder of a favorite uncle touches off a frantic search for a fabled superweapon known as the Scepter of the Ancients, 12-year-old Stephanie is abruptly pitched out of her mundane life. She hooks up with Skulduggery Pleasant--a walking, wisecracking, nattily dressed, fire-throwing skeleton detective--and similar unlikely allies to fight a genially sadistic sorcerer out to conquer the world and to bring back the bad old gods. It's a great recipe for a page-turner, and though Landy takes a chapter or two to get up to full speed, the plot thereafter accelerates as smoothly as Pleasant's classic Bentley toward a violent, seesaw climax. Earning plenty of style points for hardboiled dialogue and very scary baddies, the author gives his wonderfully tough, sassy youngster a real workout, and readers, particularly Artemis Fowl fans, will be skipping meals and sleep to get to the end. Expect sequels. (Fantasy. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October

Gr 4-8-- Every once in a while a story comes along that is pure unadulterated fun. This tale (HarperCollins, 2007) by Irish screenwriter Derek Landy is one of those gems. Stephanie Edgley. age 12, meets Skulduggery at her uncle's funeral. He is covered from head to foot and it is some time before Stephanie realizes Skulduggery is a skeleton. Far from being repulsed, she's fascinated by a world of magic she never knew existed. When Stephanie inherits her uncle's estate, strange men begin pursuing her and detective Skulduggery comes to her rescue. The plot thrusts the duo into tight spots and narrow escapes which will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Narrator Rupert Degas is flawless in his interpretation of the story. Even minor characters come deliciously to life. But it is the relationship between Stephanie and Skulduggery that makes this tale such a hoot. The two bicker back and forth with dry wit and sarcasm, but Stephanie holds her own against the flawed, heart-of-gold Skulduggery. Hopefully, we have not heard the last of this dynamic duo. A must-have purchase.--Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK

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