It has been a while since I published a book review so I thought today would be a good day to do so.  As you have probably noticed I have been binge reading the Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy recently.  

Skulduggery Pleasant Mortal Coil by Derek Landy Book Cover
Skulduggery Pleasant Mortal Coil Book Cover

Dark Days is the fourth book of the series and we are once again following the adventures of Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain and the opening of the book is based on Valkyrie and her friends doing everything they can to get Skulduggery back.  We also hear of a threat to the finely balanced life that the magicians and in particular Valkyrie has, one that is not fully resolved in this book. 

Valkyrie has started learning about necromancy, which is a branch of magic looked down upon by most of the others in the magical community.  It is interesting to note that there are many things that the magical community can overlook, such as Skulduggery being a walking talking  skeleton, but they all hate necromancers. 

We also learn a little more of the magical history of Ireland and Chin’a secret is revealed to the reader.  This reveal leads the reader to understand a little of China’s motivation and her apparent standoffish behaviour with everyone around her.  She is worried that people will betray her the way that she has betrayed others in the past. Despite China’s indifferent behaviour in this book she does admit to liking Valkyrie, which shows that while she may not care often when she does it is because you have earned her respect. 

My favourite character development in this book is Kenspeckle, who until this point spends his  time fussing over every injury Valkryie gains, and complaining to Skulduggery for every injury of Valkaries that he has to heal. 

One of the interesting things about this book is that it is the first time that the reader is given a mystery that isn’t solved in the same book. The previous books could stand alone if it weren’t for the character development however in this one it dangles a mystery which isn’t solved and makes the reader want to continue reading the series. 

In each of the books you can see the characters growing.  in Valkyrie’s case she is becoming more able to physically fight and complete magic, in the case of China or Kenspeckle we are hearing about their checkered pasts and the reader can infer what impact this has on them as characters and why they are the way they are now. 

Derek Landy is very good at giving a strong sense of setting without ‘info dumping’ the area which helps give a great reading experience.  I also really like how he peppers dark humour around the growing tension which helps to ensure that the book never feels too dark to continue reading.  This book also ends with a massive cliffhanger.  I was actually planning on going back to reading the Heroes of Olympus series after this to try and break the series reviews up a little, but that just wasn’t possible with the ending of this book. 

One of the Key Themes in this book is friendship and how far you would go for your friends.  Valkyrie has spent the time between books, barely sleeping or eating just so she can be reunited with her friend Skulduggery.  Granted she has not been the only one aiming to get him back but she was the driving force.  It made me think about my friends and how far I would go to help them if they needed it. 

Another theme that I wanted to highlight from this book is family.  The Revenge Club (a group of villains all aiming to get revenge against Valkyrie & Skulduggery) two of the members are related, we also see that Valkyrie has been ignoring her family with her concentration on rescuing Skulduggery.  In both cases the family ties are important, the father son relationship in the Revengers Club helped to oil the wheels of the more challenging relationships in the group.  The relationship that Valkyrie doesn’t have with her parents at this time, helps to remind her that there are more important things than her magician friends.  

At a certain point in the book, there was a moment where those on each side of the line came together to help each other survive a challenging moment. This means that the characters followed the rule of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.  Sometimes you have to join in with people that you don’t agree with in any way to ensure your survival.  For this short time, you put all rivalry aside and pick it back up after the situation which is threatening their lives. 

I really enjoyed this book, and in places it certainly tugged on my heart strings.  The cliffhanger at the end made me go and get book 5 from my bookcase rather than finishing the books which are literally sitting next to my keyboard as I write this.  

I am going to give this a solid 4 stars.  I have read a couple of books this year that were better than this, but that cliffhanger made me continue the series regardless of my other plans.  Have you ever read a cliffhanger that made you change your reading plans immediately?