Thursday 15 May 2014

Book Review - Kingdom of the Wicked

Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant #7
Genres: Fantasy | Childrens, Young Adult
Release Date: 30th August 2012
Publishers: Harper Collins
No. Pages: 607
Source: Borrowed
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Magic is a disease.

Across the land, normal people are suddenly developing wild and unstable powers. Infected by a rare strain of magic, they are unwittingly endangering their own lives and the lives of the people around them. Terrified and confused, their only hope lies with the Sanctuary. Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are needed now more than ever. And then there's the small matter of Kitana. A normal teenage girl who, along with her normal teenage friends, becomes infected. Becomes powerful. Becomes corrupted. Wielding the magic of gods, they're set to tear the city apart unless someone stands up against them.

Looks like it's going to be another one of those days..

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

Kingdom of the Wicked followed much the same suit as it's previous prequels, it expanded and adapted the world of Skulduggery, it threw in many many more characters, but it still had it's light-hearted, humourous feel that the entire series had continued to have so far. However, for the first time in this series, I started to see some flaws and while they didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story hugely, they did affect how I felt about certain plot points, certain characters and my overall rating.

I had to appreciate a huge twist Landy put on this installment; the first in his final trilogy of the series he set this book apart from the others with brand new adventures, a variety of characters and devious little plots that are going to bring this series to an absolutely amazing ending. I loved how Landy incorporated new worlds and time travel into Kingdom of the Wicked,and into the world of Skulduggery; as if everything he'd already supplied me with in this world wasn't enough and he developed both the idea and this new world extremely well, maybe not as well as the actual world of Skulduggery, but I can't scrutinise him for that, this extra world wasn't exactly a make or break area of the book, but something that was was the lack of actual action involved. Now don't get me wrong, they hardly sat around all day 'looking for clues', but especially in this novel, they didn't really get to the nitty gritty as much as I'd hoped. I'd gotten used to Landy's fantastic fight scenes, the descriptions and the gore, the stylistic imagery and the passion in the characters and this novel felt much more 'lets's plan' than 'let's do'; whether this is the compliment how much some of the characters have changed and how you can't punch yourself out of every situation, who knows, but it did ruin some of the story for me and affected the entertainment value inside.

The actual plot itself however was much better in this novel than some of the previous installments, it had the right amount of twists, treachery, misplaced trust and of course, Tanith returned. I had really missed my girl, so even the tiniest of scenes that she was featured in brought a smile to my face; remnant or not, she's still one of the best characters in this series without a doubt. Many of the twists in this novel that occurred I didn't see coming and those that I did didn't disappoint me, Landy has a way of hiding the obvious in plain sight and leaving clues infront of our eyes, making us all mini detectives as we make our way through the series and I absolutely love it; I still get those moments of realisation where I headbutt the butt or squeal or get so overwhelmed with my emotions that it's hard to believe that this is the seventh book and not the first all over again. However, the plot would be nothing without the characters, and in Kingdom of the Wicked, Landy really blended these two features together. His touch of time travel and dimension jumping enabled the characters who were once previously the enemy show a different side to them and it highlighted how not one single person is completely good or evil; there are light and dark parts in us all, our life experiences can change us as a person, the decisions we make the lives we do or don't take reflect on us, and especially in the final chapters of this book, we are not always as we expect to be. By creating this idea, Landy was able to develop previously underdeveloped characters, give them more layers and in some cases turn my opinion completely around.

Once again though, the stars of the show were Skul and Val and once again, it was their relationship that shone through, but this time, it was about much more than being crime partners or being able to have a laugh, Landy developed their relationship so subtly throughout the last six installments that it goes so much deeper than friendship; they would sacrifice themselves for each other, do anything in order to ensure the others safety and protect one another from Lord Vile and Darquese, and they will never let the other lose themselves in the overall scheme of things. I honestly believe I've never read about a relationship like there's, full of adoration and kindness, but brutal honesty and humour and what still amazes me is it's not a romantic one, it's so much better, so much bolder and so much brighter than that, they are the true definition of friends. A skeleton detective and his partner, a descendant of the ancients and her best friend, there is seriously not better connection than with these two, and I genuinely have no idea how I'm going to keep it together in the end.

With an plot twist and cliff hanger so brutal, I would be so willing to sell my soul if I didn't already have access to the next installment, however, one thing I do hope Landy features much more in Last Stand of Dead Men is Darquese; I'm really enjoying how cruel and vindictive she is, how powerful and genuinely insane she is and the more I get to read about her, the more I fall in love with her. Give me more action, more Darquese and more Skul and Val friendship and I'll be positively in pieces Landy.

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