The days between 27 December and New Year's Eve are dead days - days when spirits roam and magic shifts restlessly just beneath the surface of our everyday lives.
There is a man, Valerian, whose time is running out, who must pay the price for the pact he made with evil so many years ago. His servant is Boy, a child with no name and no past; a child he treats with contempt, but who serves his master well and finds solace in the company of his only friend, Willow.
Unknown to any of them it is Boy who holds the key to their destiny. Set in dark threatening cities and the frozen countryside in a distant time and place of the author's making, The Book of Dead Days conjures a spell-binding story of sorcery and desperate magic as Valerian, Boy and Willow battle to stop time and cling to life.
Beautifully evoked, dramatic and emotionally powerful, this is a real page turner.
About the Author
Marcus Sedgwick works in children's publishing and before that he was a bookseller. His books have been shortlisted for many awards, including The Guardian Children's Fiction Award, the Blue Peter Book Award, the Carnegie Medal and the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Marcus lives in Sussex and has a young daughter, Alice. Previous Books: Flood and Fang, The Kiss of Death, Blood Red, Snow White, The Dead Days Omnibus, My Swordhand is Singing, The Foreshadowing.
Marcus Sedgwick, author of the highly acclaimed The Dark Horse, returns on stupendous form with the first book of what promises to be a darkly terrifying trilogy. The Book of Dead Days is set in a nameless city where evil, cold and putrefaction are the norm. The wretched populace struggle to survive as the cold bites into their bones and hunger gnaws at their vitals. Wandering through this bleak landscape is Valerian - mystic and prestidigitator with strangely magical powers, he is himself at the mercy of even darker forces, forces which he conjured up 15 years before the story began. Valerian is the victim of his own conceit - he summoned the spirits of the dead and signed a deadly pact with them, and now the time has come to fulfil his dreadful obligation. But Valerian is determined to live - whatever the cost. Accompanying the fearsome figure of Valerian through the streets and sewers of the city, as he searches for the means to escape from his destiny, are two children. His constant companion is the unnamed Boy, his assistant for years who follows him with an unquestioning loyalty, desperate to known his roots yet frightened to provoke the volatile magician by too much questioning. Willow, Valerian's new acquisition, has no such inhibitions; having literally stumbled upon a dead body, she has fled the theatre where Valerian has been performing his nightly routine, and flung herself on the mercy of the magician and his servant. Fearless and utterly devoted to Boy, Willow is determined to protect her new charge whatever the cost, risking her own life to save that of her new-found friend. The unlikely trio wander the streets of this unholy city, searching for the Book which will release Valerian from his pact. As the days between Christmas and New Year - the Dead Days - tick remorselessly by, time is running out; the spirits will demand their due and Valerian is only too willing to offer up another victim to be the sacrifice. This darkly disturbing book is mesmerising and compulsive; unsettling, yet totally riveting. There are many unanswered questions as the last pages are turned - who is Boy? What happens to Valerian? and above all, what does the future hold for Willow and Boy? Eager readers of The Book of Dead Days will have to contain their impatience, and trust that the second part of Sedgwick's fascinating trilogy will shed some light on at least a few of these questions. Ages 10+ (Kirkus UK)