Skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant and his increasingly badass partner Valkyrie Cain are back for another truly blockbusting adventure. Bedlam spans almost six hundred pages, and it’s no wonder: this book packs in a huge amount of story and almost as much chaos as its namesake. There are multiple point-of-view characters criss-crossing continents and universes, to tackle problems ranging from the epically magical (how far would you go to regain your younger sister’s soul from the forces of evil?) to the heartbreakingly familiar (when is a good time to let your parents know you like girls as well as boys?). There are some amusing sidesteps towards our own reality too, including a cameo from an American president with a soft spot for French fries and a hatred of the ‘liberal media’.
This gives the reader a lot to keep track of, but Landy keeps an admirably firm grip on the plot throughout. Taking his time through the earlier chapters, he builds towards an exciting setpiece – and then lets loose some explosive revelations which will surely mean major changes are ahead. He also maintains his remarkable eye and ear for character. Although the books have brought our heroes into darker territory as time progresses, they retain their signature charm, style and way with a quip. On this form, Skulduggery and Valkyrie could still pick up new fans 12 books into their series – quite an achievement.