Skulduggery Pleasant

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Skulduggery Pleasant
Skulduggery Pleasant series.jpgSkulduggery Pleasant series 2.jpg
The covers of the Skulduggery Pleasant books

AuthorDerek Landy
CountryRepublic of Ireland
GenreFantasy, children's literature, young adult fiction
Published2007–14 (first series)
2017– (second series)
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback)
Audiobook eBook

Skulduggery Pleasant is a series of fantasy novels written by Irish author Derek Landy. The books revolve around the adventures of the skeleton dete, Skulduggery Pleasant, his protégé, Valkyrie Cain, along with other friends. The central story concerns Valkyrie's struggle to stop evil forces threatening the world and her internal struggle to resist the darkness within.

Since the release of the first novel in 2007, Skulduggery Pleasant, the series has been praised by both readers and critics. The following novels were released each year afterward, with the exception of the fourth and fifth novels, Dark Days and Mortal Coil, which were both released in 2010. Landy was initially contracted to write three books, with any further books depending on how well the first trilogy. The success of the first novels ensured that the deal was extended first to six books and in 2011, HarperCollin signed the deal for the final trilogy.[1]

In July 2016, Derek Landry announced via a video blog that although the Skulduggery Pleasant series was complete, the series as a whole was still set to continue with a sequel series, the first book of which was released on 1 June 2017, titled Resurrection.[2][3] On 2 April 2020, Seasons of War, the fourth book in the second series, was released.[4] It is the beginning of the second (and final) trilogy of that series.

In October 2020 the title for the 14th book was revealed. It will be titled "Dead or Alive. "Dead or Alive" is due to be released in April 2021.


No.TitlePublication dateCountsISBN
First series
1Skulduggery Pleasant3 April 200767,393 words[5] / 384 pages[6]ISBN 9780061231155
2Playing with Fire1 April 200869,683 words[5] / 352 pages[7]ISBN 9780061240881
3The Faceless Ones6 April 200969,689 words[5] / 416 pages[8]ISBN 9780061240911
4Dark Days1 April 201077,335 words[5] / 416 pages[9]ISBN 9780007325979
5Mortal Coil2 September 2010104,000 words[5] / 576 pages[10]ISBN 9780007326013
6Death Bringer1 September 2011118,000 words[5] / 608 pages[11]ISBN 9780007326037
7Kingdom of the Wicked30 August 2012134,765 words[5] / 608 pages[12]ISBN 9780007480210
8Last Stand of Dead Men29 August 2013164,848 words[5] / 608 pages[13]ISBN 9780007489237
9The Dying of the Light28 August 2014159,149 words[5] / 624 pages[14]ISBN 9780007489282
Second series
10Resurrection1 June 2017111,323 words[5] / 448 pages[15]ISBN 9780008169022
11Midnight1 June 2018104,443 words[5] / 432 pages[16]ISBN 9780008284602
12Bedlam30 May 2019TBAISBN 9780008303969
13Seasons of War[17]2 April 2020TBAISBN 9780008386245

First series novels[edit]

Skulduggery Pleasant[edit]

Twelve-year-old Stephanie Edgley is tired of her boring and miserable life. But when her uncle dies and a mysterious man breaks into her recently inherited mansion and tries to kill her, she is saved by a humorous, arrogant, elementally magical, 400-year-old detective that goes by the name of Skulduggery Pleasant, who just so happens to be a walking, talking skeleton, and she is pulled with him to a secret world of danger, murder and magic. Later in the book, taking the new name of Valkyrie Cain, Stephanie partners up with Skulduggery to solve her uncle's murder meeting many types of people and creatures along the way, to prevent the devious Nefarian Serpine from obtaining the Sceptre of Ancients, a mystical weapon that can slay even the strongest of gods. The Sceptre is a powerful weapon which can be used to defeat and overcome the world and theoretically bring back the Faceless Ones.

Playing with Fire[edit]

Baron Vengeous, one of Mevolent's Three Generals, has escaped from prison, and he has big plans for the Grotesquery, a dark creature created from the remains of some of the most deadly creatures to ever walk the earth. Most worryingly of all, it had the torso of a Faceless One, one of the dark gods that ruled the earth eons ago, and Baron plans to use this to bring back the rest of the Faceless Ones, so they may resume their reign of tyranny and torture, and to help him with this endeavour he has an army of vampires at his disposal. This will be Skulduggery and Valkyrie's toughest battle yet.

The Faceless Ones[edit]

As a number of teleporters are mysteriously murdered Valkyrie and Skulduggery learn that it is quickly linked to a fanatical cult named the Diablerie, who worship horrific Dark gods known as the Faceless Ones, as they attempt to open a portal with the goal of returning the Faceless Ones to the world. With the assistance of a cocky young teleporter, Fletcher Renn, Valkyrie and Skulduggery have very little time to track down a mysterious man named Batu, stop the Diablerie, and prevent the Faceless ones from returning to earth, because if they do not, the world will burn. This one will have deadly consequences.

Dark Days[edit]

Following the events of The Faceless Ones, Valkyrie has tracked down Skulduggery's original skull, with which she can open another portal to the home dimension of the Faceless Ones and rescue Skulduggery. However, things do not go exactly as planned as Skulduggery has become unhinged thanks to his experiences with the Faceless Ones, but it is quickly revealed that they have much bigger problems to worry about: The Revengers Club, a group of criminals and murderers (and Scapegrace), who are out for revenge against those who wronged them in the way they know best: mass murder. And if that was not enough to deal with, sensitives all around the globe are having visions of a new threat, one that will bring the world to its knees: Darquesse.

Mortal Coil[edit]

Between the shocking revelation, for its real name, a near-mortal creature for which the Sensers had horrific apocalyptic visions in which it turns the world into a charred lifeless shell, a hotbed of at least 2,000 vicious souls with shadows known as Remnants that turn their hosts into murders of psychopaths without remorse and a prophecy that could turn her into Darquesse, a messiah of necromancers who believe it will be their salvation, Valkyrie Cain has something to worry about. And this time she does not come out completely victorious.

Death Bringer[edit]

The Death Bringer has finally arrived, and she has brought with her an eagerness to end the world as we know it, and initiate the Passage, a secretive ritual which necromancers refuse to explain to the rest of the magical community, only that it will 'tear down the barriers between life and death'. But when the horrific truth behind the Passage is revealed, Valkyrie and Skulduggery are caught up in a hectic race against time to save half of the world's population from an untimely death, a race that will have both Skulduggery and Valkyrie facing their inner demons.

Kingdom of the Wicked[edit]

Mortals all throughout the world are inexplicably obtaining magical powers, and the trail seems to lead to Argeddion, a pacifistic, almost god like being, who, with the knowledge of his true name, hopes to bring magic to the masses, and lift the world into a new era of enlightenment and peace. The only problem with his seemingly idyllic plan: many of his test subjects are running wild, drunk on their newfound power, and are slaughtering innocent people and on the verge of exposing magic to the world. All of this poses a credible challenge to Skulduggery and Valkyrie. They also have the Supreme Council to deal with, an allied group of sanctuaries trying to convince the Irish to hand over control after the recent series of catastrophes. To make things worse, Valkyrie starts having uncontrollable trans-dimensional jaunts to a world controlled by sorcerers, where mortals live in terror and Mevolent still lives.

Last Stand of Dead Men[edit]

The war between sanctuaries of the magical world that everyone has been expecting has finally come, with the Supreme Council making a desperate grab for the complete control of the cradle of magic, sparking a brutal war that will turn friend into enemy, and ally to foe. But even as the Dead Men make their final stand for their country and their freedom, there is another war raging, inside Valkyrie Cain herself, and it is much more important. Because if she loses, Darquesse will rise, the world will burn, and everyone she knows and loves will perish.

The Dying of the Light[edit]

The final book of the first series. The War of the Sanctuaries has been won, but it was not without its casualties. Rogue supercharged sorcerers from the battle of Roarhaven are running loose. Following Valkyrie's becoming of Darquesse, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop Darquesse and hopefully free Valkyrie before she turns the world into a charred, lifeless cinder. And so he draws together a team of soldiers, monster hunters, killers, criminals, and Valkyrie's own murderous and sentient reflection.

Second series novels[edit]


A lot has changed. Roarhaven is now a magical city, where sorcerers can live openly. Valkyrie Cain has been out of action for years, recovering from the war against her alter-ego Darquesse, which nearly destroyed her and everyone else. Some things never change, though: bad people still want to do bad things, and Skulduggery Pleasant is still there to stop them. When Skulduggery learns of a plot to resurrect a terrifying evil, he persuades Valkyrie to join him for just 24 hours. But they need someone else on their team, someone inconspicuous, someone who can go undercover: Omen Darkly, a student at the new Corrival Academy, a school for the magically gifted.


Valkyrie has struggled to keep her family safe ever since she became a sorcerer, while she battled alongside Skulduggery and returned victorious every time. However, a killer kidnaps Alice, her little sister, to force Valkyrie into a final battle. Valkyrie is joined by Skulduggery and Omen Darkly, to find Alice within twelve hours, before it's too late.[18]


Reeling from the aftermath of Alice's kidnapping, Valkyrie and Skulduggery have their hands full with new violent visions of the future, while Valkyrie works tirelessly to find her sister's soul, conspiracies in the American government, and tracking down old enemies while facing newer, greater threats than ever. With the King of the Darklands on the rise, and the Anti-sanctuary moving into their endgame, it will take Valkyrie, Skulduggery, the Darkly brothers, and all the allies they can muster to face what lies in store. If new secrets and revelations do not tear them apart first.

Seasons of War[edit]

War was coming. To avert catastrophe, Skulduggery was sent on a secret mission that took him away from everything he knew, to Dimension X. It was there that Valkyrie had to fight the hardest against the enemies who wanted her dead. It was only by crawling through darkness that she was able to once again stand in the light in another dimension. Skulduggery found that Mevolent's dimension was overrun by zombie like people who were infected by a disease called Draugar.

Seasons of War released on 2 April 2020, and is the first novel in the final trilogy of the second series.[4][19][20]

Short stories and novellas[edit]

The End of the World[edit]

In June 2011 Landy posted on his blog that he would be writing a short story about Skulduggery called The End of the World.[21] It was released in late February 2012 to coincide with World Book Day 2012. The Australian release of this novella came with an additional short story titled Just Another Friday Night. Deleted scenes from Skulduggery Pleasant were included. It is set a few months after Death Bringer. It was included in the 2014's short story collection.

Tanith Low in... The Maleficent Seven[edit]

A novella featuring Tanith Low was published in 2013. The cover and title were released on 7 December 2012 after several delays. Landy stated it was his favourite book cover ever. It was released on 28 March 2013 in the U.K & Ireland and 1 April in some other countries. The novella follows Tanith Low and Billy-Ray Sanguine as they form a team of villains, outcasts and monsters in order to collect the God-killer weapons, so that they may never be used against Darquesse, whilst Dexter Vex has recruited a team to collect the weapons with the exact opposite in mind: he wants to stockpile the weapons in order to be used against Darquesse. It is a good day to be a bad guy.

Armageddon Outta Here[edit]

Armageddon Outta Here is a collection of all the previous short stories and novellas published in the series along with 3 new short stories, 1 new novella and a sample chapter from the final book.[22] It was released on 3 July 2014.[23] The order below represents chronological order, as they as listed in the collection, as opposed to their original publication date.[24][25]

  • Across a Dark Plain: 1861: The Dead Men traversed South Dakota on the hunt for their target, Nefarian Serpine.
  • The Horror Writers' Halloween Ball: 1986: Gordon Edgley and Skulduggery Pleasant attend the party of the enigmatic Sebastian Fawkes.
  • The Lost Art of World Domination: Set after Skulduggery Pleasant, Scaramouch Van Dreg manages to capture Skulduggery Pleasant. Originally included in Skulduggery Pleasant.
  • Gold, Babies and the Brothers Muldoon: Set after Playing with Fire, The Muldoons kidnap babies and hold them to ransom. Originally included in Playing with Fire.
  • The Slightly Ignominious End to the Legend of Black Annis: Set after The Faceless Ones, Tanith Low encounters Black Annis for the first time. Originally included in The Faceless Ones.
  • Friday Night Fights: Sometime before Dark Days, The story of how Valkyrie Cain and Caelan met each other.
  • Myosotis Terra: Set after Dark Days, Skulduggery and Valkyrie search for Myosotis Terra. As part of a competition, a short story was written in 2011 with the winning entry featuring as a character. Some European editions of Mortal Coil contained this story. It was re-released in the tour edition of the 2012 Australian tour edition.
  • The Wonderful Adventures of Geoffrey Scrutinous: Set after Mortal Coil, Geoffrey Scrutinous and Skulduggery Pleasant search for Elwood Satchel. Originally included in Mortal Coil.
  • Just Another Friday Night: Sometime before Death Bringer, Tane Aiavao and Hayley Skirmish meet with a cursed family.
  • The End of the World: Set after Death Bringer, Skulduggery and Valkyrie attempt to solve a mystery surrounding Deacon Maybury, Ryan and the Doomsday Machine.
  • Trick or Treat: Sometime before The Maleficent Seven, Tanith and Billy-Ray Sanguine continue their quest to destroy the God-Killers. In October 2011, Derek Landy posted a Halloween special on his blog, a short story featuring Tanith Low and Billy-Ray Sanguine, titled Trick or Treat.[26] It is a prelude to The Maleficent Seven as it deals with the God-Killer weapons.
  • Get Thee Behind Me, Bubba Moon: Set after Kingdom of the Wicked, A haunted house is investigated.
  • The Button: Set after Theatre of Shadows: Skulduggery and Valkyrie attempt to avert the cause of the world's destruction. Derek Landy announced on 14 December 2012 that from 21 to 22 December, a short story relating to the Mayan 2012 apocalypse theory would be available on his blog, titled The Button. It was eventually included in the short story collection.[27]

The paperback (29 January 2015) contains three more short stories:

  • Death and Texas: Set between Friday Night Fights and Dark Days.
  • Theatre of Shadows: Set between Get Thee Behind Me, Bubba Moon and The Maleficent Seven.
  • Eyes of the Beholder: Set between The Maleficent Seven and The Button.

Going Once, Going Twice[edit]

An additional short story was later published to the Skulduggery Pleasant website in 2018: Going Once, Going Twice: Set between Dark Days and Mortal Coil.[28]

Skulduggery Bites[edit]

On 20 March 2020 Landy started posting a choose-your-adventure-type story to Twitter.[29] It ended on 1 April 2020.[30] It had readers vote in a poll at the end of each day he posted the tweets to decide something in the story.

The story follows Valkyrie and Skulduggery going to America to investigate a witch. It introduces the concept of "Horts", essentially people outside of the fictional universe who consume entertainment (that is actually real in the fictional world) and have choices as to what happens.


Skulduggery Pleasant won the Red House Children's Book Award,[31] the Bolton Children's Book Award[32] and the Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award.[33] The book was also recommended for confident readers (9+) by the Richard & Judy Children's Book Club in 2007. It also won the Portsmouth Book Awards in 2008, having been selected by school children in Portsmouth, as well as winning Irish book of the decade in 2010.[34] Also, in 2009, it won the Kernow Youth and Grampian Book Awards by a majority vote. It had also been nominated for Young Reader's Choice Awards 2010 in North America and it won Irish book awards in 2009 and 2010.

Reception and reviews[edit]

As the first four novels released, immense popularity and positive reviews have been given to the novels. Many critics praised Derek Landy's way of writing due to his large gallery of characters.

It's exciting, pacy, nicely handled and it's fun. There's nothing worthy about it, and it's all the better for that. And, I might add, it's self-contained. Landy may well revisit these characters – I sincerely hope he does – but it's a pleasingly rounded tale, which is refreshing in these days of endless open-ended books of never-ending series.[35]
There is no expense spared by Landy in this book and I would have to say that everyone who could be bothered to read it, would definitely be drawn into it and certainly enjoy it. (...) Something for everyone and everything for someone, Skulduggery Pleasant is easily my book of the year so far. Read it![36]
Landy is an established horror writer, and the combats between Skulduggery, Serpine and his legions of Hollow Men and vampires rival the climaxes of the Potter films for hair-raising effects; it isn't often that writing makes you feel as if you are watching a film.[37]
Derek Landy's debut, Skulduggery Pleasant (...) has a distinctly Horowitzian humour and verve to it, being a detective story featuring a wizard's skeleton as hero. When Stephanie's uncle dies, she discovers his horror stories weren't fiction, and that evil forces are after her for a mysterious key. Wisecracking madly, the duo must survive each other as well as Hell. At the end of it, readers of 12+ may well be regretting their consumption of chocolate eggs.[38]

Film adaptation[edit]

A movie adaption was in development under Warner Brothers but according to Derek Landy the script was "the worst thing [he'd] ever read".[39] In December 2010 Landy announced on his blog that the movie rights were back with him.[40]


  1. ^ "HarperCollins extends Landy deal". The Bookseller. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress: New Book Announcement".
  3. ^ "Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 10)". Amazon. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Seasons of War by Derek Landy". Waterstones.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Derek Landy [@DerekLandy] (14 June 2018). "I don't know the page counts, because to all depends on how big the font size is when the books are printed, but I do keep track of word counts. So, from Book 1 to Book 11..." (Tweet). Retrieved 16 June 2018 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 1). ASIN 0007241623.
  7. ^ Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 2). ASIN 0007257058.
  8. ^ The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 3). ASIN 0007302169.
  9. ^ Dark Days (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 4). ASIN 0007325975.
  10. ^ Mortal Coil (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 5). ASIN 0007326017.
  11. ^ Death Bringer (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 6). ASIN 0007326033.
  12. ^ Kingdom of the Wicked (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 7). ASIN 0007480210.
  13. ^ Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 8). ASIN 0007489234.
  14. ^ The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 9). ASIN 0007489285.
  15. ^ Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 10). ASIN 0008219605.
  16. ^ Midnight (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 11). ASIN 0008284563.
  17. ^ "Seasons of War" – via
  18. ^ "Synopsis of Midnight". Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  19. ^ Landy, Derek (31 October 2019). "Derek Landy on Twitter: "#Skulduggery13".
  20. ^ Landy, Derek (23 November 2019). "Nope! Only two, I'm afraid!".
  21. ^ "The End Of The World". Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Short Story Collection". Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  23. ^ "BEHOLD, MINIONS!!". Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress: KOTW Paperback". Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress: The Button". Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Trick Or Treat". Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  27. ^ "The Button", Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress, 21 December 2012.
  28. ^ "Exclusive Short Stories by Derek Landy".
  29. ^ Landy, Derek [@DerekLandy] (20 March 2020). "And now? Now we start the Skulduggery Pleasant choose-your-own-adventure story..." (Tweet). Archived from the original on 20 March 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Landy, Derek [@DerekLandy] (1 April 2020). "287 / THE END" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2020 – via Twitter.
  31. ^ "Red House Children's Book Award". Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  32. ^ "Bolton Children's Book Award 2008 at Bolton Literacy Trust". Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  33. ^ "YTF 2008". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  34. ^ "Longer novel section for year 8/9 pupils". Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  35. ^ Ardagh, Philip (7 April 2007). "Review at The Guardian". London.
  36. ^ "Review at the Whitby Gazette". Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
  37. ^ Hardyment, Christina (20 April 2007). "Review at The Independent". London.
  38. ^ "Short Review at the Times". The Times. London. 31 March 2007.
  39. ^ "Derek Landy interview: Skulduggery Pleasant, Demon Road". Den of Geek. 31 March 2016.
  40. ^ Landy, Derek (20 December 2010). "Derek Landy Blogs Under Duress: No Movie News".

External links[edit]