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Lord of the Night reviews the gripping fifth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, Mortal Coil by Derek Landy.
“An exciting novel that really ups the game from the already impressive previous novels and sets a new standard of excellence for the series.” – The Founding Fields
Mortal Coil is, where I think, the Skulduggery Pleasant series moves from Very Good into Excellent territory and stays there. Everything about this book is a step up from the previous books, the story, the characters, the battle and the lore that is added to in every book.
The magical community is in crisis. The Sanctuary is now a pile of ash, those responsible are on the run, and a russian assassin has just arrived to clean house and eradicate the conspirators. Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain have their hands full dealing with a bone-breaking hitman and on top of that the Remnants have escaped, a swarm of the most evil spirits in the world that have finally found something to strive for. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped on the chaos, and as Ireland begins to feel the pent-up rage of the Remnants Skulduggery and Valkyrie will have to stop them, but in order to do so they will have to go up against their friends and fellow sorcerers, and do it all without hurting any of the unwilling victims of this catastrophe.
The story is the first thing that has improved. The tension that comes out is just nail-biting, the Remnants are an enemy that can’t be fought normally and so the tension of not being able to just punch them is very obvious in the plot. The story links nicely with events from Dark Days and contains events that will carry on into the next novel, and of course answers some questions that have been around since the first three books and poses many more, a speciality of the SP series. The key plotline of the second trilogy becomes a bit more clear in this book, and one or two events in the story will have a big effect on the third trilogy as well. And the reveal at the end of the last novel is expanded upon greatly in Mortal Coil, allowing you to understand what is coming and why its completely awesome.
Mortal Coil not only features many of the characters we know and love but introduces the most new characters of any novel so far. We of course have Skulduggery and Valkyrie, the latter of whom is still dealing with events of the fourth book and which motivates a lot of her actions in this novel, and the former is as insane as ever. Tanith Low and Ghastly Bespoke are present as well and both characters, the former in particular, find themselves in very new situations that give their characters new plotlines, and the return of the curmudgeonly Kenspeckle Grouse is a nice addition. And plenty of new characters are introduced including the vampire Caelan, the russian assassin Tesseract, and the eerie Dr. Nye, all of whom are great additions to the series that really add to the book in different ways.
The action is one of the most standout things of this novel because in the first few chapters you can tell the difference in power. New enemies are coming into the series and the power level has risen greatly, where before The White Cleaver was the most powerful around, new character Tesseract quickly shows how strong he is by going up against all of the protagonists and winning. The fights are wonderfully done and you can see that for the first time the protagonists are truly outclassed by their enemies, and they need to rely on things other than just punching to win. Their brains. And there’s plenty of magical duels, punch-up brawls and verbal sparring that the SP series does so well.
The pacing is nicely done, and at 575 pages Mortal Coil is the longest SP novel yet. But now the POVs switch more often, with Valkyrie, Vaurien Scapegrace, Tanith Low and other minor characters getting POV chapters, and some chapters set with random people showing the chaos of the Remnant Outbreak. The length of the book allows for more plots to be developed and on the whole makes the book a much better reading experience, though for me an SP novel could never be too long even at 2000 pages. They are just so funny and fun to read.
For my favourite quote i’ve chosen one that I just couldn’t stop laughing over, three guesses who says it,
“I dont want to threaten you in your own home, so if you’d like to step outside, I can threaten you there.”
The ending is very well done, and rather bittersweet. The novel is not a perfect win for the heroes, it’s never been really but this book in particular. Two events occur that are quite shocking, one rather sad and one very alarming, and both are very important to what comes next, the latter in particular is vastly important for one character in particular and it’s just bloody awesome when you understand what it means. But it’s definitely enough to make you want to pick up the next book immediately which is what I did.
For really stepping up the game of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and it was already damn good to start with, I give Mortal Coil a score of 9.3/10. Each Skulduggery book is better than the one that preceeded it and Mortal Coil is not the first exception to that. It’s a damn enjoyable read and fans will love it, and non-fans need to become fans so they can read it. But those who don’t like urban fantasy will not like Skulduggery, sad but true.
My next review will be Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!