“Looks like it’s going to be another one of those days…”
Irish author, Derek Landy, doesn’t disappoint in the seventh installment of his Skulduggery Pleasant series. Kingdom of the Wicked is full of witty banter, sarcasm, darkness, and evil, with just the right amount of humor and kindness.
Kingdom of the Wicked grabs the readers attention from the very first page. By the first page, I do not mean the first page of the prologue because even the dedication page demands attention. After reading just a few lines from the dedications, such as: “Publicists are an odd bunch. Part manager, part bodyguard, part servant, you’re only happy when you take over an author’s life completely. I would berate you for this, but I have yet to find a publicist who stops talking long enough for me to say anything,” I couldn’t wait to continue. If a dedication page could be this amusing, what was the rest of the book like?
The rest of Kingdom of the Wicked was awesome! Landy ropes the reader into his web, so one has to stay up until 3 a.m. to finish the book (which I am guilty of). The beginning of the novel jumps right into the story, so the reader doesn’t have to wait to get to any of the action. We are introduced to a set of new characters in the series, who don’t lack in the sarcasm department either. One such character, Sean, berates one of his partners in crime, Doran, when he isn’t able to succeed in creating magic right away. Sean sarcastically says, “Oh, great, […] we have the power of flashlights. Let the world beware.” This dry humor, never ceases throughout the book, making for a delightful read.
While this novel is appealing to a wide variety of ages, some may be concerned that it is a bit on the dark side for the targeted age audience, 11. As I was reading, the thought crossed my mind that it could be too mature for someone of 11 years. After finishing the book, however, it is my opinion that while dark and full of violence, it is still suitable for the intended audience.Violence is never condoned, just for the sake of violence. Whenever Valkyrie Cain employs violence it is in self-defense, or in in the event that someone makes her extremely angry. For instance, when Kitana steals Valkyrie’s beloved jacket, Valkyrie is extremely vengeful in wanting to get her jacket back. Derek Landy addresses the issue of violence in a blog post, where he states:
“[…]occasionally I fall into the trap of assuming that the Skulduggery readership is able to handle whatever I throw at them. And for the most part, they are. […] Nick, my editor, still thinks I could be a little less bloodthirsty, while I think I’m just bloodthirsty enough. Some serious things happen in this book, and I reckon I needed to be as brutal and uncompromising as possible in order to achieve what I needed to achieve.”
While there are characters who use violence in a negative way, Valkyrie Cain represents how a person does what she must to survive. Although Valkyrie normally doesn’t use violence in a negative way, emphasis on normally, her character is presented realistically in that everyone has the right to make a choice and, in her case, she is fighting to make good choices. This struggle over good vs. evil is represented in Valkyrie because she also knows the name of her “true self.” In Skulduggery Pleasant, when someone with magic knows their true name, their full power is unleashed. It is at this point where the person must decide whether to use their power for good or evil.
In Valkyrie’s case, her true name is Darquesse, and there have been premonitions that Darquesse is going to destroy the world. Valkyrie is determined to prove these premonitions wrong because not only does she not want to destroy the world, she also doesn’t want to destroy her family. Valkyrie’s character is a great character for kids to consider as a model of how, while the world may be rooting against you and the choice may be hard, you always have a choice.
Violence aside, this novel is a great read; one that is sure to grab the attention of many different ages. I would recommend this to adults as well as children. For the parents out there concerned about the violence in the novel; read it yourself first and decide. I am highly confident you will enjoy this book as much as the 11 year olds out there. Go pick up a copy for yourself, a friend, or a child and find out if Valkyrie reigns in the power of Darquesse, or gives in and destroys the world?