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SCEPTER OF THE ANCIENTS, Skulduggery Pleasant Book 1

Author: Derek Landy

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Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books

Material: paperback

Summary: Gordon Edgely, a world-renowned author of mysteries and the macabre, is dead. Uncle Gordon bequeathed his mansion and wealth to his 12-year-old niece, Stephanie. When Stephanie heard rumors that Uncle Gordon did not die of natural causes, she decided something needed to be done. On the day of her uncle’s funeral, she met Skulduggery Pleasant, ace detective, Gordon's friend, and a walking, talking, skeleton. Together, they will work on the case and put those rumors to rest. This is the book that launches the Skulduggery Pleasant fantasy adventure for pre-teens.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 to 14

Interest Level: 9 and up

Reading Level: 5.6

Age of Child: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: The author knows his audience, young teen readers, and the topics that they enjoy reading. Skulduggery Pleasant is a fast paced, macabre, adventure story. The enjoyment and tone of the work is created and sustained by the sparkling repartee that permeates the entire work.

Pros: Pre-teens and teens alike will enjoy this fast-paced fantasy adventure.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a fun book to read. It is well written and will provide hours of worthwhile and enjoyable reading.


Educational Themes: One of the primary goals of education is to teach reading and to keep learners, regardless of grade, engaged in reading. To accomplish that goal, schools and parents need to have reading material that is valuable, informative, and enjoyable. This book meets all those criteria.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fantasy, adventure, mystery, humor, middle grade series

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2008

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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