The Skulduggery Pleasant books created by Irish author Derek Landy is an award-winning, best-selling, children’s book series. The characters are realistic enough to provoke true emotion and their relationships remind me of some of my own. The humour and satire rivals that of great comedians and come on, who doesn’t want to see a walking, talking, flame-throwing skeleton detective?
I could go into great detail as to why these books are so incredible, ramble on all day and night and most likely into next week (there are 9 nine of them after all, and a whole host of short stories), but for now I’ll refrain from doing so. Instead I want to focus on why I wouldn’t recommend it to my seven-year-old nephew.
For his age, he’s pretty bright. He’d have no trouble with the long words or complicated names, I’m certain of that – how exactly do you pronounce Erskine Ravel? Answers on a postcard, please – the reason why I don’t want him to read them is the emotional rollercoaster of violence and anguish.
Now I don’t mean the fighting, or other magical warfare. And the first few books aren’t too bad. But it seems Derek got to the point where he didn’t care what the readers thought anymore and decided to remove a limb here, or superglue an ear there. I’m well aware of the violence in cartoons, but the vivid descriptions in these books… Derek Landy no wonder you’re a self-confessed sadist.
The physical aspects are only half the story, however. Landy’s sadism extends to – and seems to revel in – emotional pain. Oh, so this is your favourite character? Not for long! Before you know it that amazing, trustworthy mentor is dead and gone, often in the most brutal and heart-wrenching way possible (*pauses to sob while remembering character death*).
A sixteen-year-old girl will happily cry over the loss of such a vital role, especially when she feels there was a connection, a learning of wisdom. But a seven-year-old boy won’t want to do that. He wants to be tough and play video games (I know, so proud) because crying’s babyish.
Besides, I don’t want to put him through the emotional turmoil I went through, borrowing book after book from my friend until I managed to buy them all.
In truth, Derek Landy and Skulduggery Pleasant have enriched my life, allowed me to take a new name (which comes with – for me, at least – a new, more confident persona) and to meet awesome people who share my interests.
I’d love my nephew to be a part of that, but maybe he’ll be old enough to cope when those movies come out, eh, Derek?
Check out the Skulduggery Pleasant series on Amazon, starting with book one, of course: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skulduggery-Pleasant-book/dp/0007241623