I had no idea what to think of this series when I had first picked it up. While the first book is an average, if positively sarcastic urban fantasy and mystery, the next books quickly change gears to become much darker and more violent, creating trauma and psychological problems by the handful. Stephanie Edgley was an average teen, except for the mansion she inherits from a dead uncle. While being forced to stay there the night, a man breaks in, only to be driven off by a living skeleton, the titular Skulduggery Pleasant. Stephanie forces him to bring her along with him, and they solve the mystery surrounding her uncles death, and later much, much more. Both of our main character are witty, snarky fellows, who will just as often make jabs at each other as commenting on their strange- and usually perilous- situations. Other characters range from psychotic killers, to killer-wannabes, to manipulative people who aren't satisfied with the status quo. Each of them probably has something wrong in the brain, which often gets exposed, either with a switch in narration, or with the nosing about of our protagonists. While the setting is cynical-with that list of characters, it has to be- it still keeps a bright enough atmosphere through the dialogue and naration, which are as snarky as our main characters. There's more magic in this one, and like the Young Wizards series it sticks to the rules, but still leaves enough wiggle room to create new situations and powers, seeing as how the two branches are basically "manipulate the four elements" and "something other than manipulating the elements". But along with the characters, these abilities get darker as the series progresses, especially when Necromancy becomes prominent. Everything is dark in this series, so light a candle and get to checking it out!
Cinda Williams Chima has written two different series, both of which are very good. However, to remain fair, I chose to only showcase one of these series. Both of which also magic and wizardry, so no surprise there. The Seven Realms focus on the kingdom of the Fells, where magic is practiced by noble wizard families and the clans of the forest, usually in contention with each other. Raisa ana' Marianna is the heir to the throne, and feels pressure from both the clan on her father's side and from her mother and the High Wizard, who would like nothing more than for her to marry another wizard, forbidden by ancient laws and stories. On the opposite spectrum, Han Alister is trying to eke out a living for his family, both working in the clans and in the city. However, his legacy catches up with him, and he must find a way to survive in the cutthroat situations he is thrown into. The stories intertwine very nicely, as both character represent near-opposites both in social standing and in ideals, and the two of them affect each other's life without knowing it. Many of these seven realms get exposure too, though some have much shorter on-screen moments. Notable is the magic-hating southern kingdom, which clashes with the Fells' policies, and where the character must travel through in the second novel. The story shifts over time to be nearly completely focused on the noble classes, but has a better story for it. The magic system is once again upheld, and even pulls some tricks with how a character appears to bypass some restriction of magic. Court intrigue, magical mysteries, and conjoining narration creates a tight series that will have anyone interested the full four books.
While many of you won't be so willing to pick up a whole series at once, I suggest that some of you grab the first books and give them a try, If you like them, you'll have a bunch of new books just waiting to be read! I'll see you all on Monday and Friday next week!