5.0 out of 5 stars
A Fitting Ending to a Great Series
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 29 August 2014
It's nearly impossible to write a review for this book without giving anything away - and believe me, if there is a book that one should read without being spoiled for what happens, it's this one. So I will have to be brief when it comes to anything actually IN the book, and this review will be more about what the book, and the series, has meant for me.
Sorry about that.
Skulduggery Pleasant came into my life in 2010, a couple of years after the series started and when four books were already released. It started off as "oh, this is a fun read for kids", but quickly developed into something that was much, much more. Into something that, and as a 30-something woman, not really the targeted demographic for this series, I'm not ashamed to say "took over my life". Well - figuratively, anyway. Obviously I did, and do, still have a life beyond this series, or books in general.
In any case, about four books in, it was clear that this had become my all time favourite series.
So, yes. I'm biased. This is a fan review. But then, any review for the ninth and final book in a series is probably going to be written by someone who has read and loved the books for a long while. If you're looking for an unbiased, objective opinion, this won't be it - it's as subjective as it gets.
And my subjective opinion is that "The Dying of the Light" is the best Skulduggery Pleasant book written.
I know, I said that also about the previous book, "Last Stand of Dead Men". But unlike LSODM, which, as I still think, was the best-written, most ambitious, biggest-in-scope SP book written by that point, but was not my favourite in the series, "The Dying of the Light" is probably also going to get that title, finally pushing "Death Bringer" away from that spot.
It's ... Well, no. It's not perfect. As usual, I have - or would have - some quibbles about it, if I was going for "objective review". Some of the things that happened ... Some of the solutions seemed almost too easy, too quick. Some of those easy solutions of course then turned out to be not that easy or simple after all, and the amount of twists and turns the story takes in "The Dying of the Light" is one of the things I adored about this book. Almost every time I thought "oh, so this is how it goes", it turned out that ... no, not quite like that.
Actually, one could argue the number of twists - the number of times the carpet was pulled away from under your feet, just when you thought something had been established and you were safe standing where you were - is also cause for criticism, and I have understanding for those who would say so. It worked for me, though.
I'm also still trying to decide how I feel about a literary device that was used for the first time (for this series) in this book, a literary device that provided a different ... frame, or structure, than what the previous instalments had. I think, overall, that I approve of it, although there were times, especially towards the end, that I had a very hard time, and I mean a *very* hard time, mustering up the enthusiasm to make my way through certain of those chapters. (Those who have read the book will probably understand what I mean.)
But what am I saying, anyway? In my subjective, not objective, opinion, this book *was* perfect.
It's a beautiful, raw, occasionally heart-breaking, bittersweet, painful, and most of all, fitting ending to this series. There were things that made me cry. As usual with SP books, there were things that made me laugh. There were parts that made me choke a bit from all the emotions, the impact it had on me. There were parts that made me punch the air in joy and triumph.
I was terrified when I started the book. I was so scared I wouldn't be okay with the way it ends. I feared I couldn't cope.
I'm glad to say that - in spite of those cries, that heartache - I am more than okay with the way it ended. It ends ... well, exactly the way that felt right. Right for those characters, right for this series, right after everything that happened in the last few books. Yes, there were deaths I'm still trying to come to terms with (heck, there are deaths in some of the previous books I'm still trying to come to terms with) - is it spoilery to say that there are deaths? does any reader of this series at this point expect otherwise? - but I understood the way they happened and why they happened.
One last thing: I loved, LOVED, the way "The Dying of the Light" brought things full circle. It's a book that is full of nods to the very first book, nods to the way it all started. Not in the way of "oh, we've run out of ideas, let's just copy some things from the first book", but little things, details, parallels both explicit and subtle, both things pointed out by the characters and things left for the reader to remember and smile about with a nostalgic happiness - nods of respect, nods of remembrance, nods that make it clear that this is where this particular story started, and this is also where ends. I loved that, and I think that, almost more than anything else, makes it easier for me to accept that this series is really and truly over.
I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss Skulduggery, and Valkyrie (whose story this always really was, in spite of the title of the series - this was her story), and China, and everyone else - even Scapegrace and Thrasher. Skulduggery, more than anyone else - I don't really do the "fictional boyfriend" thing but oh, I'm not going to lie: I'm in love with this skeleton. Always have been, probably always will be. I will miss him.
But I'm also glad that the series always had a point where it was going to end. That this end was always in sight - that everything throughout the series was moving towards this. As much as I loved it, as much as I'm going to miss it, I'm glad it ended on a high note, with a perfect book. It never lost its way, never became a meandering mass of confusion. And for that I am grateful.
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