Warning!! – This review contains spoilers for Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire by Derek Landy.
Do Panic. They’re Coming
This book! OMG! As a continuation to the Skulduggery Pleasant series this is the book where things start to go crazy.
So many awesome characters get introduces in The Faceless Ones including Solomon Wreath, who might just be the sassiest necromancer to ever live.
We also get my baby Ghastly back! After he turned himself to stone in the first book to defend Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Tanith and himself from the white cleaver who was attacking them, we had to go through Playing with fire without him, which hurt so bad. I’m so glad we have him back.
We also get to meet the newest member of the squad, the last Teleporter, Fletcher Renn. Although this 17 year old has so much attitude, he ends up becoming a sweet baby you want to have teleport into your life and never leave. Did I mention I still can’t get over his hair? I know 7 years since The Faceless Ones was released and I still can’t get over it.
Like I said this book makes me so emotional on so many levels and because this is a reread there are so many little things that you can reference back to in some of Derek’s short stories. For example in chapter 11 we get our first introduction to Solomon Wreath and after a lively chat with Skulduggery and Valkyrie he ends up getting punched in the face and welcomed to the team by Skulduggery. When Valkyrie asks “What was that?” referring to the punch, Skulduggery replies with “History”.
Now the first time reading this I assumed that skulduggery just had a disagreement with Wreath as Skulduggery doesn’t trust or like necromancers, but this history that Skulduggery refers to is actually mentioned in Derek’s short story Across A Dark Plain (taking place in 1861) that featured in Armageddon Outta Here. If you haven’t read these short stories yet, well all I can say is that you are in for a treat.
Third bone-breaking, belly-busting adventure in the series that puts the “funny” back in…um…funny series. That didn’t really work, did it? If you’ve read the previous Skulduggery books then you know what the Faceless Ones are – and if you know what the Faceless Ones are, then you can probably take a wild guess that things in this book are going to get AWFULLY sticky for our skeletal hero and his young sidekick. If you haven’t read the previous Skulduggery books then what are you doing reading this? Go and read them right now, so that you know what all that stuff in the previous paragraph was about. Done? Good. So now you’re on tenterhooks too, desperately awaiting the answers to all your questions, and instead you’re going to have to wait to read the book. Sorry about that.
If you would like a full plot summary I would recommend this one. It tells you everything you need to know if you don’t have time to re-read the book.
With The Faceless Ones there I was taking so many notes that by the end trying to pick out my favourite scenes was like trying to choose a favourite pet (I would have said child, but I don’t have children). But after much thought I managed to narrow down a few I love.
The first one I will talk about is from Chapter 18. Now this scene when I started reading it had me jumping up and down in my chair because I knew what was coming and was so happy!
In this scene Skulduggery and Professor Grouse are in the middle of a heated argument when the sweet, innocent and weird Clarabelle comes running over and shouts that the stature of Ghastly is gone. As soon as they get to the now empty room where Ghastly was being kept they begin to search the walls for any small cracks to make sure Sanguine hadn’t come in a stolen him.
Everyone is really worked up when Tanith runs into the room smiling and happily says hi to everyone. She is welcomed back to Ireland by Skulduggery telling her to get her sword, when she asks what’s going on and who still might be in the area there is this confusing exchange that makes me smile every time.
“Who still might be in the area? What’s going on?”
“Ghastly,” was all Valkyrie could say.
“I know!” beamed Tanith. “Isn’t it amazing?”
Skulduggery turned his head sharply. “Isn’t what amazing?”
Tanith’s smile faded and uncertainty clouded her eyes. “Um, Ghastly.”
“What’s amazing about Ghastly? He’s missing.”
Tanith frowned. “But I was just talking to him.”
They all then hear footsteps and look to the door just as Ghastly walks in. He is welcomed back with Valkyrie shrieking “Ghastly!” and launching herself at him in a hug. The comes one of my favourite parts of this scene.
After the professor does a quick check on Ghastly to make sure he is okay, Skulduggery steps in front of him, where Ghastly says he Tanith mentioned he had been asleep for 2 years. They then share the most Bro moment ever! I love it!
“You’re…You’re not going to hug me, are you?”
Skulduggery considered it for a long moment. “Probably not,” he concluded.
“it would just be weird,” Ghastly explained.
“I’m OK with shaking your hand though.”
“I’m not really comfortable with that.”
Ghastly shrugged. “I get it, you like your space.”
Valkyrie stared at them, unable to believe what she was witnessing, and then Ghastly’s grin broke out and she realised this was a guy thing. The two friends hugged and she smiled happily.
This scene is one of my favourites because not only do we get Ghastly back but we get to see how much Skulduggery cares for Ghastly. We also get to witness how much Ghastly has grown on Valkyrie in such a short amount of time as she only knew him for a short while before he became stone, but she was still so excited to see him back.
The next scene I’m going to talk about is actually not just one scene it’s actually the last part of the book. I won’t be going into detail because it spans over 10 Chapters, but these last chapters consist of the fight at Aranmore Farm. These chapters are full of action, drama and moments where I was smiling so much I thought I might pull something in my face. At this moment of my reread this is one of my favourite final battles.
The last scene I’m going to mention today is from Chapter 44, the last chapter in the book.
After Skulduggery has been dragged into the portal and taken into the Faceless ones dimension, Valkyrie meets with Solomon Wreath in a graveyard at his request. There Wreath tells her that she can open the portal and save Skulduggery all she needs is his real skull, which he lost, the only thing he asks in return for his help in for her to let him train her in Necromancy as he believes she has a gift for it.
The reason that I like this scene so much is that we get everything set up for the next book and we also get to see how Valkyrie interacts with people when Skulduggery isn’t around. For example instead of calling him Solomon or even just Wreath, she calls him Mr. Wreath.
“It doesn’t have to be an object that links to the Faceless Ones,” Wreath told her. “It just has to link to something in that reality.”
He smiled. “There is a part of Skulduggery still here, in this reality. In this country in fact. And you know what it is.”
This is so different from the normal Valkyrie who when with Skulduggery is strong and sassy and does as she pleases.
It’s as if she doesn’t know her place because Skulduggery isn’t there to reassure her. This scene just really interested me, so that’s why I mentioned it.
“Detective, have you ever considered the fact that violence is the resource of the uncivilised man?”
“I’m sophisticated, charming, suave and debonair, Professor. But I have never claimed to be civilised.”- Kenspeckle Grouse and Skulduggery Pleasant- Page 93
“My apologies. For our first meeting, I should have chosen a more civilised spot.”
“Don’t feel too bad, Valkyrie is my partner. You can treat her like You’d treat me.”
“That’s a shame, I actually liked her.”- Solomon Wreath & Skulduggery Pleasant-Page 113
“Mr. Bespoke,” Thurid Guild said his voice echoing slightly, “welcome back to the land of the living.”
“Guild. What brings you here?”
“It’s Grand Mage actually,” Guild corrected. “But you’ve been a statue for two years- I’m sure I can forgive you one little slip.”
“It wasn’t a slip.”- Thurid Guild & Ghastly Bespoke- Page 235
“Valkyrie,” Skulduggery barked. “I need you to snap out of it, you understand me? Valkyrie Cain, I need you with me.”
“You’re with me?”
“Yes. Yes, I’m with you.”- Skulduggery Pleasant & Valkyrie Cain- Page 351 & 352
Like I said in the beginning, The Faceless Ones is where everything goes crazy. By the end of the book we have people killed including Mr. Bliss who I had forgotten dies (I full on gasped and started crying) and Skulduggery is pulled into the portal to the Faceless Ones dimension. But even though everything has gone crazy I k now it hasn’t even started yet, this is just the beginning of everything becoming awesome (well more awesome than it already is) this is where the series truly takes off and along the way we meet more characters and travel to new amazing places.
I can’t wait to start Dark Days and watch Valkyrie grow as well as read all the amazing one liners and hilarious conversations that I love in Derek’s books.
Rating: 5/5 stars- Amazing! I loved it!
Happy reading everyone!