Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #23. Yet again we foray into the deep end of the metaphysical and existential realm with a mad captain and a boat full of holes.
And so, with the final conclusion of the wisecracking detective’s escapades in The Dying of the Light (what is with these capitalised T’s?), I sit back and crack open the inevitable bottle (because of course it is a green tinted bottle which I use to visualise liquefied crises, not unlike the ones used for rum during the golden age of piracy) of existential angst which comes with finishing a series as long and involving as this one. I’ve done it with Potter, I’m doing it with this one and I’m sure as all hells gonna do it with Kylie Chan. Now sit down and listen to my torturous wails, internet.
It is times like these which I turn to my (only, and much more real compared to other) friends, writers. Or more specifically, the fictional characters written about by said writers. But after finishing Pleasant, I stopped my unhealthy drive to consume literature for escapist purposes and asked myself why. Why do I while away hours which could be spent having experiences, or doing work, or meeting new people? Why do I bother reading at all? Like the Internet’s saviour Dan Howell once said, “fiction is one of the cruellest drugs in the universe, because it makes us feel like reality is just crap.” If this is the case, then what’s the point of reading at all?
This depresses me. So I re-read the first Skulduggery novel again after hearing this. And I discovered something which I hesitate to call inspirational because I know some git will play fitting instrumental music in the background while I explain it. It’s that these books help us learn that life is not about seeing the better and experiencing the mediocre. You know the one similarity between every hero in literature, ever? They never allow themselves to live the norm.
In the Skulduggery series, Stephanie joins forces with the titular character when she realises that she has an incredible aptitude towards magic. This is all captivated in the lovely *cough* overused *cough* intimate-third-person style which Landy uses, and is layered with positively coruscating dialogue that is so quotable you could make a reference with every sentence you make. And it shows the development of Valkyrie as a person coming to terms with her new life. And she pushes herself to live a life beyond that which is normal.
This is at the root of escapism, and is the reason why I read. To remind myself that sometimes normal is not good enough. To reach for the brilliant, the exciting, the amazing. To give me a taste of what different is like, and different tastes damn freaking fine to me. Or maybe I’m just without a life of my own and wish to fill a void the size of a small chasm in my soul. Meh, either or.
Skulduggery Pleasant was published in 2007 by HarperCollins. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear