If you are still here you have been Warned. I was really looking forward to this story. And now that I read it I feel, let down. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the ride. The banter between Valkyrie and Skulduggery was as good as ever, the action just as good, and the plot at about normal levels of convoluted complexity. But what ruined it for me was the Ultimate Fate of the characters.
ValkyrieFirst the whole Meek Ridge plot line Just annoyed me. Yea I get the point of it. The point was supposed to be that the reader does not know which of the Three possible characters this actually is. But the problem is that There never was a doubt in my mind about who this is. I had no doubt that Darquess would loose. And the whole point of the reflection was that she wanted a normal life. So this had to be Valkyrie.
What is more that once we got to the end I felt that her decision to go into self imposed exile was not justified and what is more we didn't See her make it. Indeed we didn't actually get to see how the final climactic scene played out, nor what the aftermath was actually like. Instead we got a summary told by Valkyrie five years later. As she is about to rejoin Skulduggery, ready for a new adventure.
Worst yet we are teased with her new powers, which she barely gets a chance to use. All in all it makes me want to know how is she going to grow up and finally get out from under Skulduggery's shadow. Especially as her actions here end up being no more than something to distract Darquess with while someone else executes the real plan. This all adds up to her remaining stuck in Skulduggery's shadow, the girl who wasn't strong enough, who's big decision turned out to be futile and pointless sacrifice. The one who couldn't triumph over her own dark side. This is not where I wanted to Leave Valkyrie!
OK, I actually liked her story line. We got to see things from her point of view enough that it actually hurt when she got killed in such a nasty way. It was brutal but effective. She learned to be human, and then had it snatched away from her. Tragic but satisfying.
Part way through the story Skulduggery actually straight out and tells us how its going to end. In hindsight this is extremely annoying. What is more the reader expectation is not met. Right at the beginning in Book one we get told that Gordon Eddley likes to let his characters learn their lesson and then kill them off in the worst way possible. Now Sure this is a fictional character we are talking about. But It built an expectation that this was going to happen. Heck If you look at the cover above its note even subtle in its hint that Skulduggery is going to die. The idea that this will happen is teased several times. And really Its what I was expecting to happen. Skulduggery dies and Valkyrie must go on without him, because there is still a job to do.
So I was disappointed that he lived. And the problem with that is that we end up back at the status quo. He is now so awesome that he could use his necrotic powers and and then put them back into the box so easily that it happens off stage. But his plot is not actually resolved. Does he finally achieve redemption? No. Does he take up his family crest? No. Does he actually make the ultimate sacrifice? No, he finds a way out of it just as he said he would. Still the same old Skulduggery., to be continued next year.
Yea, she survived. But it was so gratuitous. She had to get naked for her final fight? Come on. And her internal monologue nearly broke the fourth wall, arg. This sequence was pure fan service, which really didn't add anything to the story. Also she gets back, Valkyrie and Skulduggery are about to go on a mission to another reality and she doesn't even ask to come along? The desire to get back into the team just doesn't register?
So you need someone to defeat a guardian, the entire plan hinges on it, and you decide to send the incompetent Zombie King, who is likely to decapitate himself if you give him a long enough sword? Really, this has to be one of the most stupid and unjustified decisions in the history of stupid and unjustified decisions. But then the whole 23 minutes of Invulnerability bit was rather a distraction.
The occasional unnamed chapters, and significant typography, was another sticking point for me. I found it distracting. A jump that constantly pulled me out of the story and reminded me that I'm reading. And finally Darquess isn't killed, or destroyed, but banished. So what the evil incarnate character who we just established can open doors between realities, is never going to come back right, right?
In my final analysis this story left just the wrong things open. Skulldugary didn't achieve redemption, Valkyrie remains a sidekick, the big bad could return, and while the world might have changed, we didn't get to see that, the status quo has been reastablished so tune in next year.