Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy

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HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN: 978 0 00 732604 4.
In this book, the sixth adventure of Skulduggery and Valkyrie, the heroes' quest to overcome evil and defeat the Necromancers continues. A new candidate has arisen for the title of Death Bringer, freeing Valkyrie from this responsibility. Melancholia St Clair has been chosen to fulfill this role instead. Vandameer Craven has begun to experiment on her with the aim of creating his own Death Bringer. The scars and symbols which he has carved all over her body in the preceding months are designed to assist her during The Surge, as her powers are developed. Unfortunately, Valkyrie and Skulduggery cannot escape being dangerously involved, as several new secrets, with serious consequences, are revealed. A significant event is the meeting with the Jitter Girls, leading to the emergence of Darquesse, the part of Valkyrie which seems to emerge as a defence mechanism when she is being threatened.
Landy has created a fascinating bunch of characters, many of whom have two sides, with good and evil existing as distinctive parts within them. These facets do battle with one another as situations arise and demand resolution. Throughout the series, the characters grow, change and develop. The suave and confident nature of Skulduggery Pleasant seems to be adopted by his charge, Stephanie, as she changes into the more mature and independent Valkyrie. She takes her responsibilities seriously and learns to predict the consequences of events and actions as she battles to save the world.
Despite the dark characters and plot, Landy injects many humorous comments into this series to lighten events. Comparisons between the characters from Twilight and those in Landy's own books would appeal to the readers who would never be caught reading such titles! With the double spaced print, this is an accessible title for more mature readers from upper primary through to those in secondary school.
Jo Schenkel