Skulduggery is back, and everything has changed…

This blog post has been left deliberately vague to avoid spoilers. Saying that, if you haven’t read books 1-9, it might be a bit close to the bone*.

I  would be a big fibber if I said I hadn’t been counting down the days until Skulduggery reached the bookshelves. Anybody who knows me has, I’d say, a fair idea of my love for the skeleton detective and his partner-in-magic, Valkyrie Cain. As a fan, I can get swept away in the world and the characters that inhabit it. As a writer, I can only aspire to one day do the same in my writing.

(Now, before I begin, I am fully aware that this is a children’s book. I am also fully aware that I’m all grown up. In my defence, the back of the book does say “11+”, so add a couple of pluses and I’m there… )

The tenth instalment was aptly called Resurrection. Of course, the title is a major plot-point of the book, and it’s also quite a clever choice given Derek Landy’s temporary hiatus from writing anything to do with the Skulduggery universe. Now, I do think book nine ended the series perfectly. Ending the first series (first being an important word here) with the word “magic” beautifully mirrored book one, when young Valkyrie first began her adventures. Throughout this series, she drastically changed as a person though, given her ever growing strength and also, the devastating consequences that came with it.

For this instalment, Derek Landy made it clear that this was an entirely new series, so I was curious to see if it would feel like a separate entity from its predecessors. He most certainly achieved this; this new book suddenly feels more aware, more sophisticated, and most certainly, like our young hero Valkyrie, more grown up.

Overall, it has a much darker atmosphere. Valkyrie is not the girl she once was, Skulduggery is not the same skeleton, and their relationship has changed as a result. The characters, while feeling familiar, are not the same, and you’re left feeling as if something’s just not quite right. This may sound like a negative point, but it’s actually a testament to Landy’s writing skills. Remember, this series is meant to be different. Landy challenged himself to reinvent an already established world, and he was successful.

This leads me to my previous blog post, “Go Read a Children’s Book!”, where I discussed what is considered appropriate for children’s literature. This is a book that does exactly what I think should be done for children; not hold back. There can, at times, be a misconceived notion that certain topics are a bit of a taboo in children’s literature. In general, there is an impression that the world is a bit too scary, or too confusing for children to really digest.

That’s not the case though; children are plucky, intelligent souls, and this is something Landy recognised. In this new book, he had “grown up” themes of murder (most foul) and politics (most fouler), as well as matters of mental health, sexual diversity,gender fluidity and religion. With this in mind, what I really enjoyed about this particular book, was that Landy just wrote about these concepts and that was that. There was no needless explanations, no spoon feeding of ideas – from the first page he thrust his readers into a new, yet familiar world of magic and adventure, led by wonderfully colourful characters. He did this knowing that his young fans would would understand and accept them.

“The world is bigger than you know, and scarier than you might imagine. The only currency worth anything is being true to yourself, and the only goal worth seeking is finding out who you truly are.”  ― Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant

I particularly appreciated this in terms of respecting people’s individuality and diversity.  Through his books, and Resurrection in particular, Derek Landy advocates a kinder world, through an amazing, multifaceted universe that children adore. Writing can be a very influential tool, and by encouraging a non-judgemental outlook on life, means that our children, and our future, will be the better for it.

*Bone – intentional, obviously.

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