The skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant and his thirteen-year-old assistant Valkyrie Cain are back, and they need to save the world from another malevolent sorcerer who wants to bring back the Faceless Ones. Seriously, why would anyone think it’s a good idea? They’re called the Faceless Ones, for pie’s sake, you do not want anything called the Faceless Ones around. Anyway Valkyrie now has magic, and a body double who lives in a mirror and goes to school for her! And Skulduggery is still armed with a revolver and very sharp sarcasm. Also, new whacky characters! And old whacky characters! A whole load of whack, in fact.
…Okay, so maybe this paragraph made more sense in my head. The problem is that whenever I try to summarize the book, I’m tempted to just refer to Isa’s review of the first book in the series. Skulduggery Pleasant was a lovely and original story, which surprised me by defying stereotypes in an almost unconscious fashion. However, Playing With Fire gave me a sense of deja-vu: the new villain is also someone Skulduggery fought in the War, he also wants to bring back the Faceless Ones, he also needs to retrieve some mysterious artefact for his plan, he’s also gratuitously evil… There are hints here and there that the plot is going to develop in the next books (Stephanie/Valkyrie’s mirror double feels pretty important) so I’m hoping not all books will have the same carbon copy plot, but I was seriously unimpressed with the story. Even considering that this is aimed at children.
Speaking of the plot, aside from being fairly predictable, there were way too many fighting scenes in my opinion. A couple of fight scenes are cool, a dozen… less so. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster, where they cram in so many explosions that I tend to lose track of the story and don’t precisely remember why they’re fighting right now, I just wish they’d get it over with and go back to the witty repartee. And unfortunately the repartee wasn’t as witty as in the previous book. Yes, it had its moments, but on the whole it felt strained and repetitive. This wasn’t a bad book, it was just more of the same, and I think I’ll have to read the third book to figure out where this series is going and whether I want to keep reading.