Thursday 17 April 2014

Book Review - Mortal Coil

Mortal Coil
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #2
Genres: Fantasy | Childrens, Young Adult
Release Date: 2nd September 2010
Publishers: Harper Collins
No. Pages: 572
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are back - just in time to see their whole world get turned upside down! While they struggle to protect a known killer from an unstoppable assassin, Valkyrie is on a secret mission of her own. This quest, to prevent her dark and murderous destiny, threatens to take her to the brink of death and beyond. And then the body-snatching Remnants get loose, thousands of twisted souls who possess the living like puppets, and they begin their search for a being powerful enough to lead them.

Facing such insurmountable odds, Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith can trust no one.
Not even each other!

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

Throughout the Skulduggery series so far, I've been frightened, amused, fallen in love and fallen into nightmares, yet Mortal Coil did something absolutely none of the other books in the series so far had even contemplated; it made me doubt everything I could possibly think of. Characters I had previously put my faith in turned rogue, characters I would usually have trusted with my heart made me red with anger and characters I thought were for life were unbelievably rude and decided to bloodily die on me.

Mr Derek Landy, you are a cruel man. Back track to starting this book, I was immensely happy to find the world of Skulduggery in pieces, and I mean that in the most positive way I can, because in a world of clarity and ruined societies, a country with no such government opens the doors for much danger and action, and for a nice big plot for Skulduggery and Val, not to mention a couple million of Remnants running loose in Ireland, what else could you possibly want from a sequel? As with every book in the series, Landy threw me headfirst back into this world, with Skul and Val side by side, their humour much darker, matching the atmosphere of the book, but also readily available, but it was the chink in their relationship from early on that I really liked. Every teenager keeps secrets, lets be honest, it's what we do, and I appreciated how Landy highlighted this; granted, it's not every day you find out you may one day become a wicked sorcerer, hell bent on ending the world, I think I'd want to keep a lid on secret too if I were Val, but the connection and dynamics between the two was tested within this book, as were near enough all relationships, both friendly and romantic, but I'll get to that in a few moments. I also appreciated Skul's reaction to Val's secret; he has such a parent feel to him, worrying that it is fact about boys and not life changing events, literally, and he constantly reminds her that he isn't just her mentor, but her friend and someone she can turn to, and it's so rare to find a dynamic friendship like this in children/young adult books that isn't ruined with a crush or romance. Landy has created a formidable, dangerous and kick-ass team with Skul and Val, and some pretty fantastically developed characters and relationships in the background between them and Ghastly, Tanith, China, Kenspeckle, Fletcher and even Caelen. I haven't read a dynamic and developed series like this since Harry Potter, and nothing makes me happier than to be able to put this up there with the best.

Plot wise though, I felt a small amount of the book, maybe around 70 pages between the second quarter and third quarter was just a little bit, dry. Like a turkey or chicken breast ordered at the restaurant, cooked to perfection, executed brilliantly and presented amazingly, yet when tucked into, it's a little too tough, and not easy to get in to. It needs some gravy. Not that I advise pouring gravy over your copy of Mortal Coil, but I do advise being prepared to actually sit back and chill, because after four previous books of fight scenes, death inducing scenes and quite frankly, some damn right freaky scenes, I was surprised to find myself a little uninterested throughout a small section. In a book of 570+ pages, you may think that 70 of them isn't that important, but to me, it's so vital. I have come to expect a level of intimacy with the characters and alluring nature to the plot in this series, and when this small area let me down, I was extremely worried about the fate of this book; it did in the end blow my mind, but you see my problem. Yet the further into the story it got, Val doing what she was doing and Skul and the gang doing what they were doing, the more interesting and alluring the plot got, even when Val and Fetcher were on simple date nights and partying, the plot intensified and became generally quite frightening. The Remnants involved reminded me of a scene in a cartoon Batman Forever episode, which creatures invading people, climbing down their throats, and boy oh boy, it made going to sleep afterwards very difficult.

I did however find myself interested in the romance elements more in this installment, which I found odd because the other, previous installments hadn't really covered much in the world of romance at all, but I think the development between Tanith and Ghastly has been my favourite so far; the subtle hints throughout the series, they're faithfulness to one another and the little bit of flirting that's been noticeable between them came out much more in this installment, and of course, we can't forget Val and Fletcher, although, I don't really feel the romantic connection between those two like I do with Val and a certain somebody else.. In fact, I found myself most interested in Val in this installment, which, I'm assuming was Landy's plan all along, but the development between Stephine from Skulduggery Pleasant, the Valkyrie in Mortal Coil has been absolutely mind blowing. Val has become so much more capable, confident and believes in herself that she is talented enough to prove that she's good at the things she does, if not better than she believes, and it's been wonderful to see her grow into the character she is now. As Skully grows more empathetic and slightly more human, Val grows more distant and reserved, more powerful and dangerous and a person to be feared and it's fantastic how Landy has created a character like her. I know I talk about Val in every review I do, but she is one of the best characters I've ever read about, and this needs to be highlighted.

With the last 100 pages proving me a nervous wreck, completely on edge and genuinely falling apart and losing trust and faith in almost every character in this series, I wasn't sure I wanted to carry on reading, yet with the final scenes with Val and Tanith, the Remnants and Darquese and Skul and Val, I was utterly in love. Skully's development was fantastic, and he showed that he's such a sweetie when he needs to be, but his secrets are coming to light, China's hidden past is revealing itself, Tanith's character is lost forever, my favourite Doctor is gone and Val's future is up in the air. I've never felt so nervous and so excited for a sequel in my life like what I am for Death Bringer, and Landy continues to make me question who people are, what they're doing, what they're capable of, who to trust, who to put your faith, keeps throwing revelations and twists at me like he did in Mortal Coil, Death Bringer will be a showstopper.


  1. A lot of the boys at my old school are fans of this book, but I haven't really taken a good look at it. It does pretty scary lol

    Lovely review, Amanda! <33

    1. It definitely has moments of utter gore and horror, but I think it's a fantastic series to give a go.
      Definitely not just for the lads out there though, Val is a great leading lady :) Thank you Mel!

  2. I'm glad that this series is still going strong for you Amanda, I've seen this series around quite a lot, but always thought that it wouldn't be for me, but your review certainly has me curious, as I adore books which mess with your feelings, especially when it comes to changing your feelings regarding certain characters! Another great review Amanda!

    1. I don't think I've ever felt so close to a series since Harry Potter, and this is up there for me.
      I think it's the feel of the covers that puts it off to ladies, but there's plenty of strong, independent and fearful ladies in this series, each of them different and great to relate to, so even if you just try the first installment, it might be worth a shot? :)
      Thank you Jasprit!


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