Carol had grown up enough to realize how unpleasant she had been. She had awful self esteem issues... enough to warrant Jerkass Woobie status. And then, just when she's starting to learn magic and get a little more development, she's stabbed by Valkyrie's reflection.
Stephanie Edgley, the former reflection, is brutally beaten and strangled to death by Darquesse only a few metres away from help. The sheer despair felt by her as she narrates her death finally pushes her over the line into sympathetic territory.
There's an in-universe example towards the end of Death Bringer. Valkyrie finds herself feeling sorry for Scapegrace when she thinks he's been killed. Until he wakes up and starts annoying her again.
If Valkyrie didn't ask Caelan to drink her blood, he may have never gotten that obsessive.
Valkyrie has become this in later books. Is she simply a brave, innocent and genuinely good-natured Woobie who wants to save everyone she cares about from her Superpowered Evil Side (and ask for nothing in return) and thus jokes around or snarks to distract herself, or an overconfident reckless spoiled little brat who believes in solving her problems by punching them and wants everything and sacrifice nothing, like wanting adventure and excitement with no concern for the danger she's putting herself and others in?
Did Argeddion really think the people he murdered didn't "count", or was he just trying to delude himself into believing he could still be an Actual Pacifist because the alternative was too horrible for him?
Is the reflection just a mindless psychopath who killed Carol to gain power, or is she a pragmatic (she is Valkyrie's reflection, after all) human being who only wants the Sceptre to protect her family and her place in it?
Landy obviously thinks that the relationship between Bella and Edward in Twilight is dangerous, unhealthy and ridiculous, and viciously satirizes it.
President Martin Flannery is an obvious stand-in for US President Donald Trump, and not a flattering one. Valkyrie at one point describes him as a psychopath.
Midnight features a large group of refugees who have fled from an Alternate Universe into the Prime dimension the story takes place in, where they are being interned while the local government decides what to do with them. The parallels with Real Life refugee crises are plain. However, given that Ireland (the author's home) currently has a system in place where asylum seekers are kept in prison-like conditions in internment centres, this anvil needed to be dropped.
Author's Saving Throw: Never, a gender fluid Teleporter introduced in Resurrection may have been a response to the Unfortunate Implications surrounding Scapegrace in the previous books, being portrayed both positively, and not using their gender as comic relief.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Last Stand of Dead Men has a scene where the gang infiltrate Roarhaven and find Scapegrace, Thrasher and Mr Ping underground.All three of them are dancing. With no music. It's neither foreshadowed nor ever mentioned again. Exactly how this scene made it through the editing process is a mystery.
Broken Base: Opinion is strongly divided on The Last Stand Of Dead Men; some reckon it is the best installment yet, while others are writing death threats to the author. (He expected it.) Those who like it point out to the strong world-building, the realistic depictions of politics and war, the plot twists, and for having, refreshingly, an Anti Christ trope played completely straight for once. It's disliked for its lack of focus on Skulduggery and Valkyrie, the deaths of several popular characters, the reflection's role as new protagonist/hero, particularly as she's not well liked and her behavior in the book just seems so out of character and the ultimatum given at the ending. Oh, and no Lord Vile.
And that was nothing compared to Dying of the Light- it's either a perfect conclusion to the series, an alright book in the series that isn't as good in comparison to the other trilogy closers (Faceless Ones and Death Bringer) or a piece of tripe because Landy wrote himself into a corner concerning how to kill Darquesse and copped out. And then there's the arguments about things in the book itself...
Complete Monster: Nefarian Serpine was The Dragon of an evil wizard who started a war to revive Eldritch Abominations, and he killed the protagonist's family, then tortured him to death. However, after the guy somehow manages to come back to life and leads his side of the war to victory, Serpine double-crosses his old buddies by becoming The Mole and selling everyone out to get his own ass out of the fire. This, just so, many years later, he can get his hands on a super-powerful MacGuffin to start everything from scratch and kill everyone who even looks at him funny. It doesn't help that he only uses said MacGuffin on really powerful people because it kills them very fast and painlessly, while he prefers to kill everyone else in the most slow and painful way possible.
Crazy Awesome: Skulduggery refuses to give an answer on whether or not he is insane. Making that decision, he says, is the job of a psychiatrist. He is not a psychiatrist; he just punches people.
Anything and everything about Erskine Ravel after Last Stand of Dead Men. If you reread the scene in which Ravel hits on Tanith in front of Ghastly in Mortal Coil and listen closely, you can hear the sound of shippers sharpening their pitch forks.
The part where Ghastly and Ravel try to convince Skulduggery to reclaim his crest is particularly depressing because Ravel and because the reason Skulduggery gave up his crest in the first place was that he's Lord Vile.
Genius Bonus: In Greek mythology, Lethe is both a spirit and a river famed for causing forgetfulness. It's an early hint that Lethe is a false identity, created after Savant had his memory wiped.
Taken Up to Eleven in Last Stand of Dead Men, depending on whether or not Scapegrace is still considered a man.
The Monster Hunters basically have a "who would you do?" discussion about the Dead Men and Frightening Jones (without realizing that they're being overheard) in "The Malificent Seven". Frightening Jones is described as "gentle" and Vex's abs are admired.
Towards the end of Dark Days, it starts trending upwards and just keeps going.
Death Bringer. That is all.
Still on the up all the way throughout Kingdom of the Wicked. Just when you think they cannot possibly top the Argeddion vs Kitanna's gang vs Lord Vile vs Darquesse vs Alternate Mevolent fight sequence at the climax, Landy drops a sequel hook in which the reflection commits murder.
A chunk of the series has some of this starting out due to rampant "Awesome McCool" Name syndrome, though justified because everyone chooses their own name. The names "Valkyrie Cain" and "China Sorrows" sound more like Dick Tracy characters, but they make it badass. And the name Lord Vile sounds really Narm-y... Then you get to the end of Mortal Coil and you see Skulduggery break down at the sight of him.
Myra calling Fletcher a "flamin' drongo" was this for Australian readers.
One of Us: Derek Landy is such a nerd. The shout outs have their own page.
Paranoia Fuel: The Reflection. Looks exactly like the original, talks exactly like them, acts exactly like them, has all their memories, but it's not them, and the real person is out doing God-knows-what. It'd never fool a magic-user, but for someone like you...
Red Herring: We know that Darquesse is the true name of Valkyrie. Well, she has the reflection, right? Nope, it's actually Valkyrie herself. And then at the end of Kingdom of the Wicked, the reflection turns evil anyway.
And then, Darquesse ends up becoming a separate entity from Valkyrie during the events of The Dying of the Light.Landyyyyyy!
The Reflection/Stephanie. Obviously it would always be difficult to design a likable Replacement Goldfish who's an exact clone of Valkyrie but her martyred, holier-than-Valkyrie attitude (despite murdering an innocent girl) and her place as new protagonist in Last Stand of Dead Men, despite the fact that she has precious little impact on the plot, has led her to become rather unpopular. The fact that she completely escapes punishment for the murder of Carol doesn't help matters.
Remnant Tanith and Billy-Ray Sanguine kissing. Valkyrie certainly seems to think so.
Even more so when you think about it. Sanguine had a very creepy thing for Tanith for a while. Now, he's got an evil, possessed, fully consenting Tanith. God help the poor thing if/when she comes out of this stupor.
On a somewhat more light hearted note, Valkyrie flirts with a guy at the Requiem Ball. What she doesn't realize is that she has his drunk father's vomit in her hair.
Lord Vile sticking his thumb in Darquesse's eye.
The end of Death Bringer has Valkyrie biting that... thing to get it off her while they try to get away from Lord Vile. Even Melancholia stops being mean to her for a moment.
Darquesse gets her jaw burned off in Kingdom of the Wicked.
Have you ever read a detailed description of a human magically healing from decapitation? Do you want to?
Last Stand of Dead Men almost gives us a death by spiders scene. Which then turns into a graphic death by burning alive scene. But that was okay because the readers had already seen numerous people almost burned to death at the point and were over it. See What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In Mortal Coil, Skulduggery talks about an entity called the Unnamed, who was Mevolent's master and incredibly powerful, despite not having a true name. Sounds important, doesn't it? Too bad he'll never be mentioned again.
There's a great deal of wasted potential with regards to the reflection; all of the possible conflicts involving Fletcher, Valkyrie's parents, and life in general are more or less swept under the rug right before she dies. It seems like the author originally had plans for her to have a larger role, but aborted it upon realizing how unpopular she was.
The ending of Death Bringer heavily implies we will soon have the magical world revealed to the mortals. However, all of Kenny's work is destroyed by Kenny himself, except for a video which gets shown to Valkyrie's parents.
This series is advertised for children 9 and up. This would utterly shock the people who have read the series without knowing this. Particularly in later books, given the amount of harm Darquesse recovers from, including beheading.
Fletcher in Death Bringer, when he finds out that Valkyrie cheated on him. In Last Stand of Dead Men, his new girlfriend turns out to be a hitman, Valkyrie goes full Darquesse, his Australian friends die, Ghastly dies and, after making out with her, he finds out that Stephanie murdered Carol. And finally in The Dying of the Light, he's just getting over what Stephanie did and is thinking of starting a relationship with her, and then she's murdered by Darquesse. Dude really cannot catch a break.
Ryan from End of the World. Imagine finding out you're just a personality created by a criminal and that you're about to die.
Carol. Her sister has an eating disorder, she has horrible self esteem and just when she begins to find herself, she gets murdered by Stephanie.
Said sister, Crystal, who never finds out that her sister had been murdered and replaced, but becomes convinced regardless that the new "Carol" is an impostor. Nobody believes her, and she eventually suffers a mental breakdown from the strain.
Ghastly. He's born with a cursed face, his mother is murdered by Lord Vile who is really his best friend, the woman he loves is permanently possessed by a demon and about to marry Sanguine and his friend murders him.
Skulduggery himself. Since the end of the war against Mevolent, he's been trying his best both to make up for his crimes during the war and to get over the deaths of his family. He's not doing to well on either count, but he keeps trying anyway. Meanwhile, he also has to deal with his Side Kick being The Antichrist, his oldest friend being murdered by one of their mutual other friends, his Band of Brothers being reduced to a mere two non-evil, non-dead members plus himself and eventually his own being stuck in the middle of a vendetta between Darquesse and Stephanie, both of whom are sorta-kinda his Sidekick.