Guys, am I the only one who didn’t hear a thing about this book at the time of its release? I mean, I’m signed up to the Derek Landy newsletter and I still missed it! Last week, I was scrolling through Audible and bam, there it was, the little tween in my heart didn’t have any choice but to listen. I’m going to be totally honest with you, this review will probably be a little biased as it has already gained a heap of brownie points for the sheer nostalgia of it, but I do have a few more useful and insightful points that I’d like to bring to your attention.
Before we even get into the real review, I need to tell you about my Audible experience. You’ve probably all gathered that I listen to quite a lot of audiobooks, and usually, I’m a pretty big fan. However, this is not one of those times. If you’re considering checking out this novel, please read the book yourself, the Audible narrator just didn’t get Landy’s subtle, dark humour well enough for my liking. The book really lost something because of that.
But let’s not dwell on that, instead, let me tell you a little bit about my history with the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I was the biggest Skulduggery fan when I was in secondary school. In fact, it was my absolute favourite thing to read. It’s one of the only series that I’ve tracked release dates for and Derek is the only author I’ve ever met… he signed my book for me (granted, he signed Death Bringer, which is by far my least favourite book in the series, but whatever, it’s still signed!). In other words, I had high hopes and higher expectations for this novel.
I love that Valkyrie has grown up a bit in this instalment, especially as the series’ original fans are now of an age where they needed a more mature protagonist to have any chance of relating. The series grew with the original fans, and that’s something very few series can manage effectively, so I’m suitably impressed.
However, this was one of the only fresh parts of this novel. I bring this to your attention with a bit of a question mark, but I just feel like we’ve been here before… Skulduggery gets brainwashed to fight Valkyrie? Done. There’s corruption in the Sanctuary? Done. I kind of got the impression that he’d run out of new plot ideas. However, as I was reading this in a nostalgic moment, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One thing that was a bit different this time around was the Harry Potter vibe. I attribute this mainly to the newly founded sorcerer school, but there were definite reflections of Hogwarts in there (one of the professors is literally Snape, and there’s a kid in Omen’s class who I pictured as Malfoy in my head). I didn’t feel like Landy was stealing ideas from J K Rowling, but there was a similarity in approach that I couldn’t ignore.
Although I had my problems with this novel’s plot, I am pretty impressed that he managed to make this feel like an ending in such a short space of time (he built towards the ending of The Dying of the Light over the course of nearly 4 novels!). I always sort of had it in my head that he’d write another instalment, he always said that if the characters survived the original series he’d consider going back to them., but this ending was actually surprisingly optimistic for Landy – it had an almost, kinda happy ending!
But let’s push the nostalgia aside for a moment. Do you want to know what my hands down, absolute favourite thing about this novel is? The subtle digs at Trump throughout the sections in the White House… it was beautiful, and hilarious. I have no words.
Now that we’ve had our brief moment of positivity, there was one major thing missing from this instalment… Scapegrace and Thrasher! Why were they only mentioned? Seriously! Even one chapter with them would have been enough for me, maybe they had to meet a suspect in their bar? Give me something, Derek!
I suppose this whole review ultimately boils down to one big questions – do you need to read this novel? If you’ve read the rest of the 9 books and you’re looking for more, I’d say read it. If you read the rest of the series when you were a lot younger and you’re craving some nostalgia, I’d say read it. However, if you were only lukewarm about the series as a whole, I wouldn’t bother. It’s not the best book in the series by a long shot and the end of The Dying of the Light is satisfying enough that you shouldn’t feel compelled to read this for a sense of completion. Personally, I don’t really think it should be considered as part of the series, it’s more of a last minute add-on that you can take or leave depending on your mood.
Overall, I gave this novel 4/5 stars… one of those stars is purely for the beautiful nostalgia, and another is because of the highly entertaining digs at Trump, but I stand by that rating regardless.
It’s not my favourite book in the series and I think I’m always going to struggle to think of it as Book 10, in my mind, it’s just a really long epilogue.
What did you guys think of this series? Have you read this new instalment? Let me know what you think in the comments down below!