and walking, talking, fire-throwing skeleton...
...as well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgely, a very unusual and darkly talented 12-year-old.
These two alone stand in the way of an all-consuming, ancient evil. The end of the world?
Over his dead body.
©2007 Derek Landy; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Narrator Rupert Degas is flawless in his interpretation of the story. Even minor characters come deliciously to life....A must-have purchase." (School Library Journal)
"This production is exactly the reason young adult fantasy fare can work so well as audio entertainment. Narrator Rupert Degas...does a bang-up job...Degas' timing and complete grasp of the main character's personality couldn't be better." (AudioFile)
"Degas gives voice to a host of magical creatures with cackling giggles, guttural growls, and Irish brogues, among other distinctive voicings. His portrayal of Skulduggery, who speaks with a rolling resonance, embodies the classic Holmesian detective." (Booklist)
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.
The dialog in this book is worth the price of admission. The banter between the two main characters rivals that of any buddy movie, despite one being a skeleton and the other being only 12. Recommended for those 9 and up who are not put off by the concept of a talking skeleton. Highly recommended for smart alecks of all ages.
Fantastic story and read well by the narrator. I love the character of Skulduggery Pleasant and his interactions with the main character Stephanie are brilliant. I can't wait for the next book and for the movie!
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
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.
I'm a middle school English teacher and mother of one teen girl. I tend to read paper copies of YA books and listen to books for adults.
This is a fantasy book that breaks tradition by including lots of humor and a mystery to solve. The main character, Stephanie, is a 12 year old girl who is befriended by her dead uncle's partner, Skulduggery Pleasant. Skulduggery, who happens to be a skeleton, introduces Stephanie to a magical world that co-exists with ours, but that, of course, humans are unaware of. Together they try to solve the murder of her uncle.
I loved the character of Skulduggery - he is sarcastic, witty, and to quote himself, "brilliant." There are several amusing conversations between himself and Stephanie.
Rupert Degas' convincing voices helped make this book extremely enjoyable. I couldn't put it down.
I ran across this title while looking for summer reading material for my 15 year old. She reads a lot but isn't the audio book fan that I am. After hearing me laugh like a loon for a few hours, she finally broke down and listened to this one herself...and LOVED it! She told all her friends to get it and has been eagerly waiting for the sequel. Bones, smart aleck dialogue and a trench coat...what's not to love.
I will admit when I first starting listening to this book, I was a bit unsure I would like it. But Skulduggery and Stephanie quickly grew on me. The "bad guys" are really something and even some of the "good guys" are things I would want to avoid. I think boys would love this series b/c even though the main character is a girl, she fights like no boy I know. The battle/fight descriptions are detailed and graphic - Mr. Landy puts us IN the action. And girls will like this book because Stephanie/Val is such a strong character. Rupert Degas does a fine job as narrator, giving voice to each character. And I love the sounds, howls, screams and jiggling bones between sections.
mostly ya fiction... mostly...
During the first minute of this recording, when I heard the very first depiction of Skulduggery's character, I knew I would love listening to this audiobook... and I did. It was an entertaining listen, the narration was good, and the characters are likable (especially Skulduggery). This story can be good for kids and fun for adults too.
This is a great audio; lots of fun without being spoofy. Love the voices and the music! I read a review that complained about the violence. Well, it is a book about a living skeleton and a girl fighting the demonic forces of evil. So... Nevertheless it is a clean story and is suitable for teens-- and stout hearted ten to twelve-year olds.
*Worth using a credit for.
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