“All her life she had longed for something else, for something to take her out of the humdrum world she knew – and now that it looked like it might actually happen, she didn’t have one clue what to do.”
Skulduggery Pleasant (re-titled Scepter of the Ancients in the paperback release) by Derek Landy is the first of a long series, but I have only read the first one – and despite it being a witty, fun book, probably will not commit to eight more of them!
Stephanie, 12, inherits her uncle’s estate, and is immediately attacked for unknown reasons, and saved by a mysterious man who turns out to be a living skeleton (named Skulduggery Pleasant). She discovers a whole hidden world behind the world she knows – filled with magic and strange people, and under threat of war. An evil man named Nefarian Serpine is trying to find a magical, deadly scepter, and thinks Stephanie knows where it is (because her uncle did). He keeps sending his henchmen after her.
Skulduggery is briefly captured and she must rescue him with help from other companions. There is a sort of betrayal by one of them. She briefly returns to home and normality but just as quickly embarks on adventure again (leaving a magical mirror-version of herself in her place to delay discovery). She chooses a new name, and discovers something special about who she really is. Toward the end, they all go underground to stop the adversary from getting the scepter. But in the final confrontation, while Stephanie briefly faces off against Serpine, she does not defeat him alone.