One of the things I love the most about Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series is the cast of brilliantly named characters. The series focuses on Skulduggery and Valkyrie as they fight to save the world from the forces of evil, but I’ve often wished that I could see more of particular characters. I can imagine them getting in to all sorts of trouble when Skulduggery isn’t around. I’m obviously not the only one who wished for this, as Derek has written a stand-alone book that focuses specifically on Tanith Low, once a hero but now a villain with a Remnant inside her. Tanith and her gang of evil-doers go up against a group of rogue Sanctuary agents in Derek’s latest book, The Maleficent Seven.
This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she’s got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…
There is no Skulduggery or Valkyrie in sight in The Maleficent Seven but I loved it and it’s got everything that makes the Skulduggery books so great. Some of my favourite minor characters in the series are major players in this book, especially Tanith and Billy-Ray Sanguine. Tanith and Billy-Ray have an unusual relationship – you don’t expect villains to use the word ‘love’ and be cutesy with each other. There are other characters who have also popped up in the other books in the series that you find out more about too, and not all of them make it to the end of the story (which is pretty normal for a Derek Landy book). I like that this book focuses mostly on the villains, rather than the heroes. You don’t often get to see things from their perspective so it makes a nice change. The major villain is, of course, Tanith Low, who we haven’t seen much of in the last few books, and the whole story centers around her. As well as the main story of tracking down the God-Killer level weapons, Derek gives us a glimpse of Tanith’s origins. You see her as pre-Sanctuary Tanith as well as Remnant-host Tanith.
The main reason I love Derek’s writing is because of his wicked sense of humour. The dialogue is great and his characters have some very entertaining conversations. There are some hilarious lines in this book and I just have to share a couple.
‘There are plenty of things I’d insult before getting to your intelligence, Johann. Your beard for one. It looks like the beards of Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless mated, and their bizarre offspring crawled on to your face and died on your chin.’
‘”You zapped your own brain?”
“And it didn’t do me any harm apart from the dizziness and the vomiting spells and the weirdly persistent ringing in my ears. Also the blackouts and the mood swings and the creeping paranoia. Apart from that, zero side effects, if you don’t count numb fingertips. Which I don’t.”‘
If you’re a fan of the Skulduggery Pleasant series I’m sure you’ll love The Maleficent Seven as much as I did. You don’t have to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy this one, so it would be a great book to hook kids in to the series.
5 out of 5 stars