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Publisher's Summary

The days between Christmas and New Year's Eve are dead days, when spirits roam and magic shifts restlessly just beneath the surface of our lives. A magician called Valerian must save his own life within those few days or pay the price for the pact he made with evil so many years ago. But alchemy and sorcery are no match against the demonic power pursuing him. Helping him is his servant, Boy, a child with no name and no past. The quick-witted orphan girl, Willow, is with them as they dig in death fields at midnight, and as they are swept into the sprawling blackness of a subterranean city on a journey from which there is no escape.
©2004 Marcus Sedgwick; (P)2004 Random House, Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"Sedgwick's highly visual writing makes for a true movie of the mind. It is reminiscent of Philip Pullman's work, with each detail adding to the fullness of Sedgwick's alternative world....Sedgwick draws characters so magnetic that readers will find it hard to look away." (Booklist)

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  • Chandra
  • Oakland, CA, USA
  • 11-15-04

Middling, and that's being nice.

First of all, for your information, this book's intended audience seems to be readers under 14. Which is fine!

The story is a Faust variation (a popular plot for several centuries), full of supernatural wonders. The Book of Dead Days is full of unusual and interesting environments, objects, and entities. However, in spite of its title, it is not very scary. It is also not very novelistic, in that there is little psychological depth. The author tried very hard to create morally complex characters, but ended up with mud-grey rather than sympathy-inducing shading. The villians are not uniformly Evil and the heroes are not uniformly Good; however, the one prominent female character suffers the Victorian ailment of being a self-sacrificing Angel. Being a smart cookie only modernizes the stereotype. Ick.

The pacing is uneven, the writing is cliche-ridden, and the plot recycled - but it is actually a fairly engaging tale nonetheless. Also, the reader is pretty good; he makes the best of the material.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful