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Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire by Derek Landy

Updated on June 5, 2014
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Nightcat is an avid reader who loves writing reviews to spread her addictions with the masses.

Detectives Pleasant and Cain are back!

Skulduggery and Cain are back for a second adventure, this time going up against a legendary monster, plus murderous plots, and folks who just want Val dead. As Skulduggery's one weakness she makes the perfect target from some brand new killers in the series.

Fans will cheer as new heroes take the stage, such as Tanith Low, and older readers will be delighted to see the crown prince of London crime, Springheeled Jack come into play. Who if you don't know, is just about the coolest monster ever, and some swear his legends are true.

So get ready for an international case this time, and of course, massive spoilers ahead. Scans are from my own copy, all other art is credited and linked back to the source. If you own the copyright and want credit and a link, or want something removed, please contact me.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing With Fire

The second novel finds Valkyrie struggling with her newly found Elemental skills of fire and air. But she'll need more than that with killers, vampires, a legendary monster and more after her. Fans will get to meet Doctor Kenspeckle, the only character with common sense about Val's partnership, which luckily for us, Valkyrie steadfastly ignores.

Skulduggery continues his strange habit of not being there a lot of the time with Valkyrie, leaving her in the hands of Tanith or on her own. This is strange considering how protective he is of her, but I suppose she has to learn sometime, and as he points out, he won't always be there to catch her when she falls.

Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 2)
Playing with Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 2)

The reflection starts to malfunction in this novel, perhaps in resentment over being shot by Skulduggery, or just from overuse. If you've read the later novels I suppose this is foreshadowing. Skulduggery and Valkyrie get into plenty of good battles, including a barroom brawl. Isn't he a great example? I thought so too.

You also get to see new enemies here, and of course China Sorrows is flipping sides repeatedly. But they will need her later on in the novel, so readers must resist the urge to kill her. Readers also get the first glimpse of Lord Vile, or at least his armor, and a hint of Skulduggery's lethal potential.


Skulduggery Pleasant (playing with fire quotes)

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How is magic Different in these novels?

Well for one thing, there are no Latin-sounding words to remember. There are no spells to study, and when there are spells, they are used rarely. Magic almost never needs recharged, and there seems to be an endless supply so long as the mage manages to battle on. Magic itself does not weary the caster, though it can energize them.

Magic is also backed up with weapons and martial arts in the novel. Landy pointed out in one tour that he never could see why magical people never used guns and other modern weapons, so his characters do.

There also seem to be abilities unique to certain characters, such as shape-shifting or Springheeled Jack's mastery of the rooftops of London. The magic is hidden as in most novels the 'mortals' never suspecting a thing, even when the detectives are facing vampires in broad daylight.

Overall the magic sounds, well, realistic. No not in a Wiccan sense, but in a scientific one. The abilities are there for those who have them, but they aren't so much magic as they are seeing how the elements work and manipulating them.

My Favorite New Character! - Springheeled Jack

Once known as the terror of London Town, he is seen in our own world as both a real person and a made up legend. Maybe there was a man who was good at running rooftops and leaping, maybe the constabulary had too much to drink.

But reports of this man were indeed real at one time, and somehow he always evaded capture. So, what if this man was indeed real? Would he have been an ordinary mortal, or a magical being? What would he be like, could he ever be trusted?

I've always had a soft spot for Jack, and his terrifying smile is here in all it's glory. He has his legendary leaping skills, and some of his more unsavory legends are dredged up. He is evil of course, always has been, but then I have a fondness for him and tend to overlook that.

Here he faces off against Tanith Low and looses, but he comes back later in the novel and saves Valkyrie's life. For although he is evil, Jack despises being lied to. I noticed here he has bare feet and clawed hands, though I recall in legends he had heavy shoes, or I think he did.

Anyhow, good to see Jack back in action. Hey, learn some of Jack's most famous legends HERE. The real Jack never hurt a soul, although he did manage to scare quite a few people.

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