Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy – Review [Lord of the Night]

Tom Percival will just not be satisfied until he's made one of the best cover arts ever. I'd say he's succeeded with this. But i'm sure he'll find a way to make a skeleton in a suit even more badass looking.

Lord of the Night reviews the incredible 7th Skulduggery Pleasant novel, Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy.

“I don’t know how Derek Landy does it, but each of his Skulduggery Pleasant novels surpasses the one that came before, and Kingdom of the Wicked is no exception. A stunning novel from page 1 to the last word.” – The Founding Fields

Yet again I am forced to call Kingdom of the Wicked the best SP novel yet, and it’ll be true until Book 8 is released. Derek Landy is one of the very few authors in the world who manages to make each of his books better than the last, even if his last book seemed impossible to top, he’ll do it. And he has done it again with KotW.

Magic has gone haywire. All across Ireland mortals are developing strange and latent magical powers, and the Sanctuary has it’s hands full catching these people before they can alert the wider world of the existance of magic. But a gang of psychopathic children with the powers of gods have no intention of toeing the line, and not only do Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain have a gang of power-high mass-murdering teenagers to deal with but the mysterious Summer of Light that is coming, and the man behind it whose name is Argeddion, and the foreign Sanctuaries that are rapidly becoming convinced that Ireland cannot handle it’s own problens anymore. And above all that Valkyrie has been infected by a dimensional-shifter and is hopping dimensions at random, and the dimension that she has found has but one key thing different to her own world, one thing that changed everything. Can Valkyrie survive the Kingdom of the Wicked and stop the Summer of Light before Argeddion starts armageddon?

The story that KotW tells is just amazing from start to finish. The Darquesse trilogy is a much darker story and the novel shows that clearly, while advancing the plots of many characters further along it also uses another character’s story to serve as a possibility of what is coming in the future, what could happen to another character that will usher in the end. KotW continues to expand on the mysterious background behind the events of the series, and introduces several new plotlines while continuing the current ones and taking them places you could never have expected. And the parallel universe allows Landy to show a much different SP universe, and bring in a few characters we thought were gone, and one character we never thought we’d see, and to tell a very gripping story as Valkyrie is put up against enemies and events that surpass even Death Bringer for danger.

Tom Percival will just not be satisfied until he’s made one of the best cover arts ever. I’d say he’s succeeded with this. But i’m sure he’ll find a way to make a skeleton in a suit even more badass looking.

KotW has brilliant characterisation for it’s use of a parallel world. Characters that we knew were dead and gone make a reappearance, one or two were very amusing, and one character that we’ve only ever heard about makes his first appearance and in only a few moments proves to be everything we’ve ever read about him and more. Skulduggery and Valkyrie continue to grow as Valkyrie is still in a dark place but is dealing with it better, and Skulduggery is still the same madcap but brilliant detective, like Sherlock Holmes if he was a skeleton and said literally everything that came into his head. The return of Tanith Low and Billy-Ray Sanguine is a delight as we see how Tanith has changed since Mortal Coil, and the hitman-deluxe is still the same upbeat Texan/murderer that he’s always been. The new characters introduced like Argeddion and Kitana Kellaway were very interesting, Argeddion because of his beliefs and the irony of having to stop him, and Kitana’s psychopathic rampage is a rather depressing image of what a normal person would do if woke up one day and found that they could use magic.

The action is breathtaking. The best fight scenes in the entire series are in this bo0k, the final two fights alone is worth buying the book for, they are that good. Landy once again steps up the power scale of the series, making the antagonists stronger than they’ve ever been and putting Skulduggery and Valkyrie up against enemies that could fight entire armies on their own, and continuing the fine tradition of punching evil very hard in the face. As usual we have the magical fights and drag-out brawls that the series does so well, and they never get boring no matter how many times you see Skulduggery throw fire or punch a bad guy in the face, it’s just always fun to read and laugh at when they make quips while doing it. But the last two fights are truly spectacular and Valkyrie’s fight against one character that I won’t name for spoiler reasons has become one of my favourite scenes in a book.

The series takes on a more serious shift in KotW. This is the final trilogy of the series and the Darquesse storyline that begun in book four continues, revealing more of the infamous Darquesse and how she will end the world, and the plotlines do become a bit darker. The final trilogy raises the stakes higher than ever before and sets the stage for the final trilogy, and for the next book which will be even darker. But the book is still very humourous, as if an SP book could be anything else, and this humour keeps the book from sliding into the territory of much darker novels. The pacing is easy, yet again this book is longer than it’s predecessor and features many new POVs and deals with the switches and length of the book nicely by telling a larger story that really grips the reader and keeps them wanting more, until the book is over.

My favourite quote, there’s plenty but I just have to go with this one for how spine-chilling it was,

“I’ve never eaten a newborn that didn’t have it coming.”

The ending is jaw-dropping in the plot twist it introduces. This plotline has been building subtly through the entire series, and yet it still blew my mind when it happened as I could not have predicted that this is what would have occurred. But it has and there is no doubt in my mind that book 8 will be even better than KotW, but I think that it will make a shift and become a bit more serious and perhaps sadder in tone than the rest of the series. At least that’s if events move as I predict they will, but Derek Landy has the habit of defying all predictions so I can’t tell what will happen next, and that is the way I like it.

For once again upping the game in the series in all aspects I give Kingdom of the Wicked a score of 10/10. No other score adequately ranks this book on just how good it is in my opinion. Fans of urban fantasy should not hesitate to get into the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and perhaps even those who don’t like urban fantasy should give SP a try, it might change your minds. Skulduggery Pleasant has rapidly become my favourite urban fantasy series and one of my favourite series overall, i’d say my 3rd favourite out of five. Unfortunately now I must wait until next year for book 8, but Derek Landy has answered many wishes and promised us a Tanith Low novella which will tide us over until the next release. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for them both.

That’s it for this crop of reviews. I am unsure of what will be next, but hopefully it will be Betrayer by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. 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.