It's the end of an era for Derek Landy. The Dying of the Light is the ninth and final book in his phenomenally-successful Skulduggery Pleasant fantasy-horror series.
Since 2007 when the first book was published he's sold over a million copies and has won countless awards, including the Irish Book Awards Book of the Decade. There's also a Hollywood movie in the pipeline.
Like the Harry Potter books, Landy's stories appeal to an extraordinary range of ages. I've read every one, my 20-year-old son has grown up with them and is still an ardent fan, and he has recently been joined by his 11-year-old sister. There was an ugly fight in our hall when this book landed.
Does The Dying of the Light live up to the promise of Derek's previous ten bestsellers (as well as eight other Skulduggery novels, there are also two further books set in the world of Skulduggery).
To recap for those who haven't read the first eight books, Valkyrie Cain (previously Stephanie Edgley), is an Irish teenager with magical powers (who may or may not have been killed at the end of book eight) who teams up with a skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant, to "kick evil very hard in the face".
At the beginning of this whopping instalment (600 pages), Valkyrie's reflection, Stephanie, has been hiding out in the sleepy town of Meek Ridge, Colorado for the last five years. Now there are strangers looking for her who will stop at nothing to find her.
The book then cuts back to the past where Stephanie (in Valkyrie's absence her reflection is now helping the skeleton detective) and Skulduggery are in Roarhaven, a city in a parallel universe, home to the Sanctuary and its magical inhabitants. The human and magical worlds are under threat from Darquesse who is determined to destroy the universe. Can Skulduggery and Stephanie stop her? You don't read this book, you live it - it's a truly immersive experience. You feel Valkyrie's pain, laugh along with the wise-cracking Monster Hunters, quiver as the flesh-eating Gnarl's hot breath hits your face. With plot twists that had me gasping at Landy's audacity, whip-smart dialogue, and enough clever popular culture references to impress even the most jaded teenager, this is a world class book not to be missed.
- Sarah Webb
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light. Derek Landy. HarperCollins, hdbk, €14.99.
Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709 350