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Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #1)

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant Series #1)

4.8 29
by Derek Landy, Tom Percival (Illustrator)

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Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer and
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the


Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor–tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer and
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton

—as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgley, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.

These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

Over his dead body.

Editorial Reviews

Daily Telegraph (London)
“This book is a delight. Full of character, black humor, and great fun.”
“Fun and quirky with lots of humor.”
London Times
“A distinctly Horowitzian humor and verve.”
“Expected to take over Harry Potter’s place.”
ALA Booklist
“Landy keeps the action brisk, his characters slightly macabre, and uses humor to take the edge off.”
Children's Literature - Alison King
Stephanie Edgley has always yearned for something more than the ordinary life she leads. The death of her strange and fantastical uncle Gordon Edgley opens the door to the world of magic, but if you are thinking of fairies, think again! The first surprise comes when she learns that she inherits most of her uncle's not inconsiderable estate. The bigger surprise comes when she meets one of his closest friends, "Skullduggery Pleasant." He is a dead magician who has come back to life, possessed by thoughts of revenge and victory against his old nemesis, Nefarian Serpine, who only wants to end the world as we know it by bringing back the original evil gods with the use of a Scepter that no one believes is real. Did I mention Skullduggery is a skeleton with a borrowed skull plus great fashion sense? Together Stephanie and Skullduggery embark on a journey of discovery and adventure, meeting interesting characters along the way, like the scarred boxer-tailor Ghastly Bespoke; Tanith Low, the troll-slaying lady in black; and China Sorrow, the seductress who appears to have a romantic hold on Skullduggery's reluctant affections. Derek Landy has written a delightful book about a young girl who realizes she's been a heroine waiting to happen all along, as she claims her rightful status as a warrior mage. The following books in the series are sure to be great reads.
VOYA - Amy Sisson
Considering how many fantasy novels are imported into the U.S. these days, one hardly expects freshness and originality, so this Irish author's debut novel is a very pleasant surprise. Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley is perplexed when her eccentric Uncle Gordon dies, leaving her his vast estate. She is utterly astonished to find that his closest friend is a walking, talking skeleton who also happens to be a well-dressed, hard-boiled detective named Skulduggery Pleasant. Intrigued by Skulduggery's dangerous world of magic, Stephanie ignores his protests and begins tagging along on his adventures. Before long, she encounters a troll-killing warrior named Tanith Low, vampires completely unlike those about which she has read, an evil henchman made mostly out of paper, and many other wonders and perils. Quite simply, this book is designed to appeal on every level. The book's cover, the illustrated drop caps that lead off each chapter, and the narrative's tone give it a graphic novel sensibility, even though it is really almost four hundred pages of straight text. Stephanie displays wisdom and courage beyond her years, and as such, will appeal to older teen readers as well as younger ones. Stephanie and Skulduggery's witty repartee is most enjoyable, and the pacing is fast, with constant action and fight scenes during which the author neither sugarcoats the violence nor revels in it unnecessarily. This book likely will be a big hit, and thus belongs in every library that serves young adult readers.
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8
When 12-year-old Stephanie's eccentric Uncle Gordon dies, a mysterious man bundled in an overcoat, scarf, sunglasses, and a hat shows up at both the funeral and the reading of the will. This man, as it turns out, is Skulduggery Pleasant, a walking, talking skeleton who rescues Stephanie when she is attacked while alone in the house that she has just inherited. It seems that a particularly evil person named Serpine is trying to obtain a scepter that will allow him to rule the world. Stephanie is swept into a world of magic, secrets, power, and intrigue as she and Skulduggery try to keep one step ahead of Serpine and various other nefarious folk. Deadly hand-to-hand combat, nasty villains, magical derring-do, and traitorous allies will keep readers turning the pages, but it is the dynamic duo of Stephanie and Skulduggery who provide the real magic. The girl eagerly jumps into this new, dangerous, action-packed life, but she isn't sure that she has the guts or the power to pull it off. Skulduggery Pleasant lives up to his name, performing amazing feats with such self-effacing drollness that readers will wish they had a similar skeletal friend. Give this one to fans of Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" books (Hyperion) or to anyone who likes a dash of violence and danger served up with the magic.
—Eva MitnickCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Skulduggery Pleasant Series , #1
Edition description:
Library Bound Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Scepter of the Ancients

Chapter One


Gordon Edgley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone—not least himself. One moment he was in his study, seven words into the twenty-fifth sentence of the final chapter of his new book, And the Darkness Rained upon Them, and the next he was dead. A tragic loss, his mind echoed numbly as he slipped away.

The funeral was attended by family and acquaintances but not many friends. Gordon hadn't been a well-liked figure in the publishing world, for although the books he wrote—tales of horror and magic and wonder—regularly reared their heads in the bestseller lists, he had the disquieting habit of insulting people without realizing it, then laughing at their shock. It was at Gordon's funeral, however, that Stephanie Edgley first caught sight of the gentleman in the tan overcoat.

He was standing under the shade of a large tree, away from the crowd, the coat buttoned up all the way despite the warmth of the afternoon. A scarf was wrapped around the lower half of his face, and even from her position on the far side of the grave, Stephanie could make out the wild and frizzy hair that escaped from the wide-brimmed hat he wore low over his gigantic sunglasses. She watched him, intrigued by his appearance. And then, like he knew he was being observed, he turned and walked back through the rows of headstones and disappeared from sight.

After the service, Stephanie and her parents traveled back to her dead uncle's house, over a humpbacked bridge and along a narrow road that carved its way through thick woodland. The gates were heavy and grand and stood open,welcoming them into the estate. The grounds were vast, and the old house itself was ridiculously big.

There was an extra door in the living room, a door disguised as a bookcase, and when she was younger Stephanie liked to think that no one else knew about this door, not even Gordon himself. It was a secret passageway, like in the stories she'd read, and she'd make up adventures about haunted houses and smuggled treasures. This secret passageway would always be her escape route, and the imaginary villains in these adventures would be dumbfounded by her sudden and mysterious dis-appearance. But now this door, this secret passageway, stood open, and there was a steady stream of people through it, and she was saddened that this little piece of magic had been taken from her.

Tea was served and drinks were poured and little sandwiches were passed around on silver trays, and Stephanie watched the mourners casually ap-praise their surroundings. The major topic of hushed conversation was the will. Gordon wasn't a man who doted, or even demonstrated any great affec-tion, so no one could predict who would inherit his substantial fortune. Stephanie could see the greed seep into the watery eyes of her father's other brother, a horrible little man called Fergus, as he nodded sadly and spoke somberly and pocketed the silverware when he thought no one was looking.

Fergus's wife was a thoroughly dislikable, sharp-featured woman named Beryl. She drifted through the crowd, deep in unconvincing grief, prying for gossip and digging for scandal. Her daughters did their best to ignore Stephanie. Carol and Crystal were twins, fifteen years old and as sour and vindictive as their parents. Whereas Stephanie was dark haired, tall, slim, and strong, they were bottle blond, stumpy, and dressed in clothes that made them bulge in all the wrong places. Apart from their brown eyes, no one would have guessed that the twins were related to her. She liked that. It was the only thing about them she liked. She left them to their petty glares and snide whispers, and went for a walk.

The corridors of her uncle's house were long and lined with paintings. The floor beneath her feet was wooden, polished to a gleam, and the house smelled of age. Not musty, exactly, but . . . experienced. These walls and these floors had seen a lot in their time, and Stephanie was nothing but a faint whisper to them. Here one instant, gone the next.

Gordon had been a good uncle. Arrogant and irresponsible, yes, but also childish and enormous fun, with a light in his eyes, a glint of mischief. When everyone else was taking him seriously, Stephanie was privy to the winks and the nods and the half smiles that he would shoot her way when they weren't looking. Even as a child, she'd felt she understood him better than most. She liked his intelligence, and his wit, and the way he didn't care what people thought of him. He'd been a good uncle to have. He'd taught her a lot.

She knew that her mother and Gordon had briefly dated ("courted," her mother called it), but when Gordon had introduced her to his younger brother, it was love at first sight. Gordon liked to grumble that he had never gotten more than a peck on the cheek, but he had stepped aside graciously, and had quite happily gone on to have numerous torrid affairs with numerous beautiful women. He used to say that it had almost been a fair trade, but that he suspected he had lost out.

She climbed the staircase to the first floor, pushed open the door to Gordon's study, and stepped inside. The walls were filled with the framed covers from his bestsellers. They shared space with all manner of awards. One entire wall was made up of shelves jammed with books. There were biographies and historical novels and science texts and psychology tomes, and there were battered little paperbacks stuck in between. A lower shelf had magazines, literary reviews, and quarterlies. She passed the shelves that housed first editions of Gordon's novels and approached the desk.

She looked at the chair where he'd died, trying to imagine him there, how he must have slumped.

And then a voice so smooth, it could have been made of velvet.

Scepter of the Ancients. Copyright (c) by Derek Landy . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Derek Landy lives near Dublin. Before writing his children's story about a sharply dressed skeleton detective, he wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a little thriller in which everybody dies.

As a blackbelt in Kenpo Karate, he has taught countless children how to defend themselves, in the hopes of one day building his own private munchkin army. He firmly believes that they await his call to strike against his enemies (he doesn't actually have any enemies but he's assuming they'll show up sooner or later).

The reason Derek writes his own biographical blurb is so that he can finally refer to himself in the third person without looking pompous or insane.

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Skulduggery Pleasant 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful and unique. I really enjoyed reading it. Skulduggery Pleasant himself is a funny gentleman who has a darker side. This book is not only thrilling but it also reviews alot of things about society and such. The characters are loveable (and of course, hateable.) I recommend ANYONE to read this book.
Mystryrdr More than 1 year ago
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karaicrose More than 1 year ago
I am very happy with Rupert Degas reading of this delightfully witty book. I eagerly await Derek Landy's new books to share with my nine year old boys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved reading this book! it was funny, charming and very entertaining. this book keeps you entertained the entire time. it is full of adventure and excitement, i definitely recommend this book if you love exciting fantasy. another reason i would recommend this book is because i don't like reading books that are boring in some parts and exciting in others, this book was entertaining the entire book!
Coreena 4 months ago
This is a really fun book, full of interesting characters, adventure, and action. I was engaged right from the first page. Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective with a dry wit and a quick mind and full of snappy quips. You know right away when he appears at the fringes of his friend’s funeral that he is going to be interesting and full of character. He teams up with twelve year old Stephanie to find the Sceptre of the Ancients after her uncle’s death. There is mystery and intrigue right away, pulling both Stephanie and the reader into a magical world hidden in just below the surface of the everyday world. I liked Stephanie — she is feisty and fearless, willing to fight for what is right. She is sensitive and thoughtful, but also determined, is able to stand up for herself, and is up for adventure. Landy has created a fantastic magical world in this book, filled with interesting characters and menacing villains. Many of the characters are stereotypes, however, with the evil ones having no redeeming qualities and the good ones very sympathetic. This is a great start to the series and I can see kids racing through these books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Skulduggery Pleasant is a wonderful series by Derek Landy. I would recommend this book to anyone. It falls into Fantasy/Mysteries. I have re-read this book multiple times and it really pulls you in even on the third time! Landy Is a great author. The book is witty and intriguing. It left me waiting for book seven! -Hugo
BillyWB More than 1 year ago
For anyone who is a fan of Alien PI or random 80s nostalgia, you will probably love this book! Skullduggery Pleasant is a unique character who is both dark and yet caring. I really enjoyed reading this and hope to read the next.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! It's one of my favorites. It's funny, exciting, and it will keep you reading. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
This book is about Stephanie, a young girl of 12 and her adventures that follow after her Uncle Gordon's death. Young Stephanie finds herself tied into situations she never would have expected to be involved in. These magical situations with her companion Skulduggery Pleasent involve a scepter, and magical wizards who will stop at nothing to get it. Skulduggery's story of his death is cold and bitter, that's why he wants revenge. Stephanie expected there to be more of her life, but not cleavers and hollow men trying to kill eachother. Ghastly, Skulduggery's best friend and apprentice in the story is a tailor with a sensitive side. his mother was a professional fighter and his father was a tailor, such as he. the situations are crazy in many ways, Thank you Derek Landy for this exciting novel.
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Evansmom99 More than 1 year ago
This was a very pleasant book to read. Very entertaining from the beginning to the end. The friendship between the two characters is heartwarming, even though one is a skeleton. It has so much action and adventure that will make you laugh. Skulduggery is a funny "man"! Enjoy
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