– Short Review –
The chances are that anyone considering “Bedlam” is already familiar with the Skulduggery Pleasant series. This epic volume gives us more of the same mix of humour, magic and in-fighting that we’re used to. In amongst trying to protect us mortals from an attack this instalment also sees Valkyrie trying to reinstate her sister, Alice’s, soul. As always this is an action packed rollercoaster of a ride from start to finish.
– Longer Review –
This is the 12th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and the first thing to say is if you haven’t read it’s predecessors then put “Bedlam” down and go and buy/borrow them. Whilst you could conceivably read it as a stand alone all of the characters come with a LOT of previous baggage and you really need the context of their past adventures to fully appreciate what happens in this book.
Take our titular hero Skulduggery/Lord Vile – not only is he a skeleton detective but he’s been around a while at one point declaring “I was 16 years old. In London, William Shakespeare was putting the finishing touches to Romeo and Juliet. France had just declared war on Spain. The steering wheel had just been invented……. “.
Our other main character Valkyrie Cain started off the series as plain old Stephanie, 12 years old and unaware of her latent powers. She is still referred to by both names – not forgetting her super powerful alter ego Darquesse.
These are just two of the many characters in this sweeping series and “Bedlam” features names that have been around since the very first volume (even characters that have been killed off – see what I mean about context!)
There are two main themes in this book. Firstly we have Abyssinia – a woman who’s spent several years existing as a heart in a box, prior to being brought back to life. She’s on a mission to take over the world – not just the magical world though – she wants to crush ordinary mortals and has persuaded the president of the USA, Martin Flanery. to help her. He’s a thoroughly self obsessed, vain creature (the author’s commentary on the current political situation perhaps?) and is thrilled to help with such an audacious plan – which he believes will leave him basking in glory and loved by all.
Meanwhile Valkyrie is simultaneously on a mission to save her sister Alice. She feels guilty because she previously caused Alice’s soul to become fragmented, so that she now feels no emotion but happiness. Despite others telling her this may be a pleasant state of existence for Alice, she feels a deep need to restore her aura and let her live a full life.
Flitting in and out of both storylines are many characters we know and love. My personal favourite, Owen Darkly, returns with his brother Auger and many of their school friends. Tanith Low, Temper Fray, China Sorrows, Fletcher Renn and Dexter Vex also all make an appearance.
It’s impossible to discuss the plot in any great detail without giving away any spoilers and there are sooooooo many possible threads to spoil.
However, I can safely say that this has been one of my favourite of the series. It has all the gung-ho fighting action of it’s predecessors but we also start to see more of the “human” side to these characters. Whilst the main threads of this story are neatly tied up Derek Landy has quite cunningly left about half a dozen new storylines open – we can expect Skulduggery Pleasant to run and run and that can only be a good thing. A series that could appeal to ages from 10 to 100 these books really have something for everyone – I can fully understand why they would have a cult following. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next!
Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam
is published by HarperCollins Children’s
and is available here
Derek Landy is far too modest to talk about any awards or accolades his books may have won. He will not, for instance, mention the fact that his first book, Skulduggery Pleasant, won the Red House Children’s Book Award, or that his second, Playing With Fire, won an Irish Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, or that his third, The Faceless Ones, is his mother’s personal favourite.
He lives in Ireland with a variety of cats, a German Shepherd, and two geriatric Staffordshire Bull Terriers who keep peeing on his kitchen floor because they think it’s funny.
Author Website – here
Reviewed by Angela Paull
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