Playing with Fire (Skullduggery Pleasant, Book 2)
Derek Landy
HarperCollins (2009)
ISBN 9780061240904
Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 11) for Reader Views (9/09)

 

“Playing with Fire” by Derek Landy is the story of thirteen-year-old Valkyrie Cain as she and Skullduggery Pleasant try to stop a host of horrible monsters and people.  After an evil super villain called Baron Vengeous escapes from jail, dead bodies and vampires begin to appear all over Ireland.  Can the evil menace be stopped?  Or will the end of the world become a reality?  With vampires and super villains on just about every page, this book makes for a very exciting read you won’t want to put down.

When Skullduggery gets wind of a new plot by Baron Vengeous that involves a Frankenstein-ish monster and harvesting the dark powers from the armor of a long dead necromancer, things begin to happen and they are not good at all.  Made of many different parts from many strange creatures, the Grotesquery is a living nightmare but it’s not living yet.  If Baron Vengeous is capable of awakening this very unlikable monster from the dead, the world would be just about totally doomed.  But can it be awakened?

Valkyrie Cain is an energetic thirteen-year-old girl who is Skullduggery’s sidekick.  She has helped Skullduggery on many different cases since they met.  But with just about everybody out to kill her now, will she survive?  But she’s got the upper hand because she is learning magic from Skullduggery and wearing bullet proof clothing made by a magically endowed tailor.  Also, she is rather good at throwing fireballs.

Skullduggery Pleasant is a living skeleton detective that somehow ends up having to save the world from monsters and super villains every week.  Because he is a living skeleton it makes it quite handy that he is invulnerable to almost every weapon.  He has an interesting sense of humor that also happens to be rather gruesome.  My favorite quote from Skullduggery, said after his boss yelled at him, was “I actually think he’s beginning to like me.”

I would recommend “Playing with Fire” by Derek Landy to people who like action-packed fantasy and mystery books.  It was a very enticing read and I finished it in about a day.  This book would NOT be good for the faint of heart seeing that there is a rather gruesome story for each chapter.

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