Friday, October 21, 2005

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

Author: Marcus Sedgwick
ISBN # 1842552678
264 pages

There is a time when all is not as it seems; when anything can & does happen: These are the Dead Days, the days that fall between Christmas & New Year, that dark, cold time when even the impossible may come to pass. It is during this time that Boy, an orphaned assistant to a magician called Valerian, must hunt high & low for a mysterious book that will avert catastrophe. Assisted by a girl called Willow, Boy must make an appointment with destiny & uncover the secrets of his past… and his future. Trouble will surely find them before the week is out…

Set against the shadowy backdrop of a nameless city, the nameless Boy inhabits a world not unlike our own, but in a time when science is still a kind of magic. Thus Sedgwick weaves a spellbinding web of intrigue & danger, full of dark places & even darker secrets. And the reader is kept ignorant of the facts until they unfold, leaving them in the same position as Boy, as Valerian (& Sedgwick) holds the cards close to his chest.

The plot is decidedly un-childlike for a so-called children’s book – people actually die horribly grisly deaths here – so it’s really aimed at the 12+ market, but it makes for an engrossing read as you try to figure out what the hell is happening! His style would translate very well to the big-screen & I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before this gem is snapped up.

The plot twists & turns like a twisty-turny thing, keeping you on your toes at all times. The tale is continued in The Dark Flight Down & looks set to continue in the same vein. If so, I’ll most certainly be adding it to my wish-list…

Rating: 7/10


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