Dead or Alive (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 14)

Dead or Alive (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 14)

By Author / Illustrator

Derek Landy


Magical Realism

Age range(s)



HarperCollins Publishers








Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Omen return in the 14th and penultimate novel in the internationally bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series - and their most epic test yet...

In a matter of days, the world will change.  Billions of lives will be wiped away in a final, desperate search for the Child of the Faceless Ones - she who is destined to bring about the return of humankind's ancient overlords.  To prevent this, Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain have one last - terrible - option: the assassination of Damocles Creed. With protests stirring in the magical city of Roarhaven, with riots and revolutions on the horizon, Valkyrie must decide who she wants to be: the hero who risks everything for a noble ideal, or the killer who sacrifices her own soul for the fate of humanity.  The decision must be made, and time is running out.


Lois - Age 11

Loved it, amazing!

Suggested Reading Age 11+


Supreme Mage Creed is looking for The Child of the Faceless Ones - destined to bring the ruthless Faceless Ones back to Earth - and he has a way to find her. Trouble is, it involves the deaths of millions - possibly billions - of people, and will result in the subjugation of mortals. On top of this, Creed's increasingly totalitarian tendencies are causing unrest, and riots are springing up across the magical world's capital city, Roarhaven. Creed must be stopped - sounds like a job for Skulduggery and Valkyrie. However, things get more complicated when they are framed for the assassination of Creed, who is killed mere seconds after our heroes decide to abandon their own assassination attempt. Furthermore, Creed's plans don't seem to have been derailed by his death. Can Val, Skulduggery and friends prevent inevitable catastrophe? What are they willing to sacrifice in order to save the world? And which of Skulduggery’s hats best matches his favourite blue suit?

Dead or Alive is the 14th - and penultimate - book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and is a magical adventure full of time travel, totalitarianism, revolution, conspiracies, assassinations, resurrections, gods, monsters, sacrifices, love and babysitting - as well as the usual features we've come to expect from Skulduggery Pleasant. There's not a book in the series that I haven't laughed out loud at - I could quite happily read nothing but the series' two protagonists exchanging quips all day long!

The action is also relentless - occasionally too much so. I'm not sure if it’s just where my head is at the moment, but I found the violence in this book difficult to read at times. The Skulduggery books have always been violent, in a stylised Tarantino kind of way - and the consequences of the violence are mitigated by the existence of magical healers - but I just wasn't in the mood for it this time around. The other issue I have with these books are the names - there are so many minor characters with similar names, that it often takes me a few moments to catch up with who is who, doing what to whom.

The Skulduggery books have some of the broadest appeal of any series in my library - it is popular across age groups and genders. Fans of fantasy, humour and action eat up the series, but as mentioned above, it is not necessarily one for sensitive souls.

608 pages / Reviewed by Dan Katz, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+