Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire – review

Author: Derek Landy

First published: 2008

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: “With Serpine dead, the world is safe once more. At least that’s what Valkyrie and Skulduggery think, until the notorious Baron Vengeous makes a bloody escape from prison and dead bodies and vampires start showing up all over Ireland.

“With Baron Vengeous after the deadly armour of Lord Vile, and pretty much everyone out to kill Valkyrie, the daring detective duo face their biggest challenge yet. But what if the greatest threat to Valkyrie is just a little closer to home…”

The Review: You might recall I gave an honourable mention to the first book in this series. With a higher level of vampiric activity in this – thanks to a vampire named Dusk and his infected minions – this gets a review.

Stephanie is now Valkyrie – wizards change their names so as to not allow others to have power over them – and is now thirteen years old. The blurb probably gives as much story as I want to spoil – bar looking at the lore.

We saw, with the first book, that vampires in this are very different lore wise to the genre standard. They have two layers of skin, with the first – day time layer – they are just human, albeit stronger. When the sun sets they rip that layer of and became hideous, relentless killers searching for blood and blood only. Dusk has a hypodermic of potion that can prevent the change and this allow him to serve his masters at night.

They are immune to most of the standard vampire apotropaic, but running water has a degree of truth. In actuality they are violently allergic to salt water. We meet a character that has carried salt water in a vial round his neck for years – unfortunately he never thought to work out how he would get a vampire to drink it.

We also meet the infected, those who have been given the vampire virus. These people become mindless slaves of the vampire who infected them and this state lasts two days. During those two days they can be cured but after that they turn into full vampires and are lost.

As for the book itself, well I said for the first book “There is a distinct level of darkness through it but there aren’t the nuances that would necessarily make it accessible to an older audience.” When I started reading this I found that I just hadn’t retained details from the first book, which underlines that it perhaps hasn’t got that certain something an adult audience would look for. That said the writing is strong for a children’s book and I am sure kids will love the dark aspects.

As an adult looking in, 6 out of 10 but one to definitely bear in mind for the target audience.

No comments: