I was tidying up around the place last week, and I picked up one of the books my middle son has been reading. He borrowed it from the school library. The cover looked a bit gruesome, so I thought I’d sit down and read a few pages.
Three days later, I finished the whole book. It was rivetting.
One of the main characters is a 12 year old girl named Stephanie. She is independent, athletic, courageous, and intelligent. I can imagine a whole heap of girls who don’t fit the girly-girl mould loving this character. The initial premise is one of a girl who feels she doesn’t quite fit, she feels odd, and out of step with school and her peers. Although she loves her parents and they love her, she is not sure that her parents hopes for her future are in synch with what she wants.
The other main character is a detective who is a skeleton (it’s a long story). Despite his appearance, he is instantly lovable as he has such a wry sense of humour, and an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time to support Stephanie.
Stephanie embarks on a dangerous adventure with Skulduggery involving the world of magic. They’re saving the world, of course. Initially Stephanie is quite vulnerable and Skulduggery saves her bacon quite a few times. But this is not a story of a damsel constantly in distress. As the story continues, Stephanie, supported by Skulduggery and a few other interesting colleagues, grows in her skills and confidence. She makes lots of mistakes, but there is always someone around to join the fight, teach her some new skills, or help pick her up and dust her off, and support her to learn from her mistakes so she is stronger for the next challenge (which is usually on the next page).
The following paragraph is an example of Skulduggery allowing Stephanie to experience some risk on her own. Despite his flippant response, he was actually on hand to step in if she got into some serious trouble.
Stephanie: “I could have been killed because you were tying your shoelace?”
“An untied shoelace can be dangerous,” he said. “I could have tripped.”
She stared at him. A moment dragged by.
“I’m joking,” he said at last.
She relaxed. “Really?”
“Absolutely. I would never have tripped. I’m far too graceful.”
Why is this book put-downable? An action-packed story with strong and quirky characters. There is so much action in these books, you have to stop every now and again to catch your breath. There are also strong themes of loyalty and morality throughout and these are tested frequently. Each character has his/her/its own skill set to bring to the milieu.
My middle son is delighted that I’m reading these books. He is the Skulduggery expert in our house, as he is now up to the fourth book. There have been some nice moments of connection when we have discussed the books. I have to admit though that I’m starting to stall midway through the second book Playing With Fire. All that adventure is wearing me out.