Title: Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light
Author: Derek Landy
Page Count/Review Word Count: 605
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.
This book messed with my mind, man – at first, I really struggled to get in to it, and I could never tell who was who, whether they were good guys or bad guys or even what they were actually doing. But then I got absorbed, after the first hundred pages or so, and everything got a lot more exciting.
I get the feeling that I would’ve suspended my disbelief a little sooner if I’d read the earlier books in the series, because the author seems to assume that you know a lot about his fictional world, although the occasional exposition that he uses to fill you in on what happened earlier is actually well-handled and subtle enough that you don’t even notice what’s happening.
Which is a good thing, because there’s a lot going on – people dying left, right and centre, and occasionally coming back to life, switching allegiance or doing something else that’s equally surprising. It gets confusing to say the least, although I suspect it’ll be easier to understand it all if you’ve started the series from the beginning.
And from what I understand, quite a lot of people do just that – when I was reading this at work, one of my colleagues stopped me and asked to take a look at the cover. It turns out that her kids, and her kids’ friends, are obsessed with the Skulduggery Pleasant series, in the same way that my own generation was obsessed with Harry Potter.
In fact, when I first started reading the novel, I did detect the influence of the Harry Potter series, and to begin with I was worried that it might just be a rip-off. It turns out I was wrong – the world of the Skulduggery Pleasant series is completely different, and in places I think it weakens the plot-line. Magic needs some universal laws that must always be obeyed, otherwise it can just be used to explain away gaps in the story, as it was occasionally used here.
But despite that, The Dying of the Light is a pretty compelling read, and once I really got in to it, I did find it hard to put it down. Sure, the barrier to entry is a little high if you haven’t read the other books in the series, but once you get past that, you’ll be interested in the huge collection of characters on offer, and I bet that you’ll find a favourite and settle down with the back catalogue to read about what happened to them before the events of The Dying of the Light kicked off.
I don’t want to go in to too much detail about the plot, partly because it’s too complicated to go in to and partly because I don’t want to spoil it – suffice to say that if you’re in to magic, fantasy and the fight of good against evil, then you’re going to enjoy it. Hell, I’m not even going to tell you who wins!
The only problem for me, when you consider the target audience of kids and young adults, was the level of gore that the book contains – it seems like every couple of pages, someone’s being beheaded, dismembered or otherwise brutally murdered, even some peripheral characters who the author could’ve left alive. It might bother you if you’re reading it to kids.