Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire – Review [Lord of the Night]

Don't worry. Fire doesn't burn bone.

Lord of the Night reviews the smashing second novel in the dead famous bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series, Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire.

“A sequel worthy of the series. Skulduggery is funnier and more badass than ever, and with Valkyrie Cain finally able to take the stage with her own strength the novel is filled with visceral battles, a mystery stretching back decades, and plenty of the witty back and forth that we know and love. If you liked the first novel, you’ll love this one.” – The Founding Fields

After finishing the first Skulduggery Pleasant novel I immediately moved onto the second one, and enjoyed it even more than the first. Mr Landy really stepped up the game for the second novel, and it paid off nicely as the second book entered a much wider field than the first, and allowed for much more powerful characters and forces to make their appearance.

Skulduggery Pleasant, the dead detective, has finally fulfilled his revenge. Nefarian Serpine is dead, but events are just beginning when the fanatical Baron Vengeous breaks out of the Russian Sanctuary. His plan can only be one thing, to bring back the Faceless Ones, the legendary dark gods that once ruled the earth, but how can it be done? With a pack of ravenous vampires and a Texan assassin dogging their every move Skulduggery and his apprentice Valkyrie Cain have only days to stop the Baron and his minions before he ushers in the apocalypse, for one thing is certain. If the Faceless Ones return, everyone will die.

The story of Playing With Fire is a definite improvement on the original novel. Since every three books of the series can be considered a trilogy, this particular one being The Faceless Ones trilogy, the second novel sets the stage for the third and final novel of this trilogy. The mystery behind Baron Vengeous’s breakout and his plans are constructed well so that any answers that remain at the end are tantalizing and impossible to guess at. The plot of the story is very good and reveals more of many characters pasts, more of the mythology of the series particularly the Faceless Ones, and more hints of the conspiracy present in the events of the series.

Don't worry. Fire doesn't burn bone.

The characters are the same as ever. Skulduggery is still suave and always has a witty rejoinder ready; Valkyrie as a character has begun to evolve with her newly gained magical abilities but retains her stubborn nature and her inquisitiveness. Some characters appear again like the spunky swordswoman Tanith Low, the beautiful China Sorrows and the strongest man on the planet Mr Bliss. But the story also introduces plenty of new characters, the new antagonist Baron Vengeous who was once one of the Three Generals being the most important. Some other new additions to the roster include the “Hitman Deluxe” Billy-Ray Sanguine; the brooding and cruel vampire Dusk; and the murder-obsessed Springheeled Jack. The story also reveals a bit about the mysterious Third General, Lord Vile, but he still remains an enigma by the end.

The action in the novel is once again much improved. Now that Valkyrie can use magic she gets much more involved in the fights and is able to hold her own against several powerful enemies in the book. And with the new characters comes new magic that alters the fight scenes drastically, from Baron Vengeous’s explosive and shadow magic, Billy-Ray Sanguine’s transporting ability and Dusk’s vampiric horde make for great battle scenes. Skulduggery brings plenty of fist fights and magic-fuelled martial arts, and Tanith Low’s swordwork is as delightful as ever. And for the first time we get to see the Cleavers do battle, and we see why they are the Sanctuary’s Guardians.

The pacing of the story is very good with chapters of a nice length and a good amount of POVs, and with plenty of twists that you didn’t see coming and small but potent reveals and hints about the War. The story builds up nicely until the final few chapters and then explodes into the final battle. The environments are as good as ever, the Irish background of the story is nicely described and with plenty of new locales.

And now for a new addition to my reviews. My favourite quote from the novel. This particular one caught my eye and made me laugh for a while.

Baron Vengeous: Only a heathen would bring a gun to a sword fight.
Skulduggery Pleasant: And only a moron would bring a sword to a gun fight.

The ending of the story is very nicely done, unlike the first novel which ended on its own Playing With Fire sets up the start of the next book with its own story being concluded, but the overarcing story is just entering its end. To find out what that is, you’ll just have to read the novel, and then move onto the third.

For a great story, old characters just as we remember them andsome new and memorable characters, and a great cliffhanger that makes reading the third novel next my top priority book-wise, I give Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire an 8.6/10. An improved score from the first novel, and I do hope that the third novel can break over to 9.

Should you but this book? Well if you liked the first book then obviously the answer is Yes. I would refer you to my review for the original Skulduggery Pleasant novel, the reasons you would want to buy or avoid this novel are there.

That’s it for this review. I’ve started the third Skulduggery novel, The Faceless Ones, and I will review it once i’m done. And hopefully soon I will have some new BL books for advanced reviews. Until next time.


Lord of the Night

Lord of the Night is one of TFF’s original reviewers. He’s done quite a few for TFF and that number keeps expanding. You’ll enjoy his diverse mix of book reviews. Always a treat.