Stephanie has chosen her life’s path and is now Valkyrie Cain. She and her uncle Skulduggery soon learn that the Scepter they neutralized in Scepter of the Ancients was simply a stepping stone to a larger, more sinister design than they had originally deduced. In addition, Valkyrie learns the details about her lineage, and she is literally playing with fire.
Skulduggery continues to instruct the girl, and her development is actually one of the problems with which she must deal in this installment. Valkyrie must take more risks, learn the finer points of how to judge a person’s trustworthiness and maintain a relationship with her parents — all this while trying to solve the mystery of the Grotesquery. She has a pretty full plate, and is only 13 years old.
This second book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series is very much like the first, with thoroughly interesting, well developed, and likable characters, a unique point of view toward magic and fairly predictable action. There is also a body count this time around, although the girl has not become cold-blooded quite yet. It is clear that the author has a complete story in mind, and there are hints (or red herrings) of future events scattered throughout the text.
Rated: Mild, for just over a half dozen mild terms, and a handful of vain uses of the Lord’s name.