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I absolutely loved this book and became irate when I found out that there isn't a sequal yet! I listened to it 2 times straight through! We have 6 kids and I am going to pass it on to the next one in line! They are anxious to hear it because it is all I have talked about for the last week. It opened up a whole new world just like the Artimus Fowl series did for me. The two main characters are full of life, intrigue, and a twist of humor. This is a must for any avid young adult mystery and magic listener.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Scepter of the Ancients is the first book in Derek Landy’s children’s series called SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT. The story follows 11 year old Stephanie Edgley who inherits her eccentric uncle’s property after he dies. Stephanie gets involved with some supernatural goings-on when a thief breaks into her new house (the one her uncle left her) and nearly kills her. To her rescue comes Skulduggery Pleasant — a man who used to be alive but is now a magically animated skeleton. Stephanie and Skulduggery set out to solve a mystery and end up saving the world.
Stephanie is a great little protagonist — she’s smart and logical and mature. Skulduggery Pleasant is also a great character — he’s unusual and amusing, always cracking jokes in a dry but kind of obvious way that should appeal to the target audience of this book (ages 9 and up). Here’s an example from the very end of the book where Skulduggery Pleasant is being interviewed:
"Interviewer: How would you describe yourself in five words?
Skulduggery Pleasant: Five words? Right, here goes, in no particular order, least of all alphabetical: Charming. Witty. Lethal. Brilliant. And modest."
Like I said, kind of obvious. But I will admit to snickering several times. (The above example wasn’t one of them.) The characters, the humor and the creepy atmosphere are the defining features of this novel. Unfortunately, the plot seems to be of secondary importance to Landy’s writing process. It’s fast-paced but it’s also predictable and full of clichés and cheesy villains. I thought it was bland and forgettable. Fortunately, this is something that can be fixed in future stories. I haven’t read any of them (there are eight full novels so far and four novellas) and I’m not going out of my way to find book two, but if it appears on sale at Audible, I might pick it up. Or I might not.
Most children and many adults will like Scepter of the Ancients a lot more than I did. Those who are enamored by the cool characters and creepy atmosphere are likely to forgive or not even notice the lackluster plot. I have a feeling that I’ve simply read too many fantasy novels to find this unique and I’ll bet there’s a negative correlation between how many fantasy novels a person has read and how well they like this book.
With all that said, I want to heap tons of praise on the audiobook version of Scepter of the Ancients. It was truly an excellent production with some original music and chilling sound effects between the chapters. Rupert Degas, the narrator, was brilliant. I loved his voice and his interpretation of the story. This book was worth my time mainly because of Rupert Degas. Audio readers, do not skip the interview with Skullduggery Pleasant at the end of the novel.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful