You know your series is doing well when you start writing spin offs and those of you who are familiar with Skulduggery Pleasant will love this book, especially if you have been curious about what Tanith Low has been doing since she was possessed by a Remnant.
It’s probably not the best to read books out of sequence but the next one in Derek Landy’s successful fantasy saga is an e-book at my local library and I just haven’t geared myself up for that medium yet so I delved into this one instead. I should have read Kingdom of the Wicked apparently but I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything in going here first. Besides, Tanith Low has been such a good guy, supportive of Valkyrie and Skulduggery for so many books, I have been curious about what she’s been doing as an evil person. Who wouldn’t?
Technically, Tanith’s loyalties haven’t changed much at all as she is still supporting Valkyrie in a way. Tanith has now become a staunch supporter of Darquesse, Valkyrie’s true name and an incredibly powerful and destructive part of Valkyrie’s consciousness who can pretty much destroy the world if unleashed.
And Darquesse has been released occasionally during the course of the series to mostly devastating effect so the fact that someone as skilled and brave as Tanith Low is now on Team Darquesse with the augmented powers given to her by being possessed by a Remnant means that she is a formidable force who will be extremely difficult to stop.
Tanith is still in the company of Billy Ray Sanguine who has fallen in love with her and has become her favourite squeeze. However, one feels as a reader that it is only a matter of time before Sanguine’s usefulness becomes less and he will be expendable, probably in a completely horrible way. That doesn’t occur in this book however – they are still very much together on “Team Darkness”.
They are also adding to their crew with some motley members who we have seen in previous books and some new characters – together, they make up The Maleficent Seven of the book’s title, although the mission starts with only six.
Springheeled Jack, the mythical creature who stalks London’s rooftops and the figure of children’s nightmares, makes a reappearance as does Dusk, the powerful vampire intent on destroying Valkyrie at every available opportunity. New members of the team are Annis who is some sort of troll-like creature who turns blue and has a penchant for human flesh and Sabine, who is a trickster who can imbue objects with magical powers for a brief amount of time. This comes in handy when trying to steal actual magical objects as Sabine is able to substitute them with a replica that looks the same, feels the same but is definitely not the same. By the time the owner realises they have been hoodwinked, Sabine is long gone. Along with Tanith and Billy Ray, that makes six so who is the elusive seventh member of the group? That will be revealed as you read the book which is giving a lot of suspense to something which is quite underwhelming really.
Tanith’s mission is simple: eradicate the magical weapons that could destroy Darquesse, these being in various locations around the globe in the care or ownership of dangerous individuals who will be reluctant to relinquish them. There are four in total; I will leave it to your imagination to guess in what form they might be.
You may want to know who is combatting this team of terribleness and, of course, there is a group of good guys intent on stopping Tanith. This partly consists of people who have featured briefly in the Skulduggery Pleasant series or certainly in Death Bringer, the previous one that I have read.
Dexter Vex is the group’s leader and he is joined by Frightening Jones of the English Sanctuary and former boyfriend of Tanith. Saracen Rue, who is useful but no-one seems to really know what his power is, is member number three and then there are Donegan Bane and Gracious O’Callahan who are a comedic duo whose wise-cracking banter is so typical of Landy’s lighthearted style in these books. Wilhelm Scream is the odd one out in this band of heroes, a whinger and not incredibly skilled sorcerer – Dexter admits that he is not really sure why he is there, maybe just to make up the numbers but it becomes clear that he is actually a crucial part of their hoped-for success.
With the teams set, it is your responsibility as reader to follow how it all unfolds: will Tanith be successful? Will everyone come out of it unscathed? Is there any way to defeat Darquesse? Is there any way that Tanith could return to be a good guy?
And the battle to destroy or save the weapons, depending on which team you’re on, is the crux of this book but there is also quite a large chunk of it devoted to Tanith’s back story, the story of her origin which I found an excellent addition.
I’m not going to reveal much about it here because this is a review, not a summary, but I always think that the makings of a character is quite interesting and Tanith’s story is no exception.
And for those of you who want to see Tanith return to being a power for good, joining Skulduggery and Valkyrie in saving the world rather than destroying it and, of course, seeing her get together with Ghastly Bespoke, Landy provides a seed of hope in the form of a character called Moribund who presents the idea that having a Remnant occupying your body may not have to be a commitment to a life of evil.
I wasn’t sure if this book would offer anything in addition to the main Skulduggery Pleasant series and thought that it might fall a bit flat for me as a read. Well, I was wrong and I am not afraid to admit it. It was just as good, if not better and I am sure that all fans will enjoy it. If anything, rather than detracting from the antics of Skulduggery and Valkyrie, it actually adds more depth to the magical world that they occupy, widening the scope of the action and making it seem more believable in some strange way. Focusing on a different character, a character about whom we have become fond, adds a welcome extra element – not that the series was becoming tired but Tanith’s antics do give a bit of well-received zest to Landy’s fictional world.
And it certainly did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for Derek Landy’s books. I may even take the plunge with that e-book…