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The Book of Dead Days (Book of Dead Days #1)

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3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  2,543 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
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 i ...more
Paperback, 267 pages
Published May 2004 by Orion Children’s Books (first published July 17th 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jo
This review is probably going to be a bit lacking because I thought I was being clever by reading this book about the days in between Christmas and New Year in the days between Christmas and New Year.
But well… I wasn’t.
Thanks to eating, drinking, generally being merry and trying to decide how it was possible for Robert Sheehan to still look fit as a Borrower, I read about a chapter a day.
So unfortunatley I didn’t get into this book as well as I thought I would and I don’t really have many notes
...more
Evangelia
Oct 23, 2015 Evangelia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-series
Από τις πρώτες ακόμη σελίδες μαθαίνουμε τους χαρακτήρες. Το μάγο Βαλεριαν, τον αντιπαθείς, το Αγόρι από την αλλη το συμπαθείς. Απλά πράγματα, ίσως πολύ απλά. Αυτό με προβλημάτισε. Δε με τράβηξε ιδιαίτερα να το συνεχίσω αλλά ήθελα κάτι ανάλαφρο και είπα να του δώσω μια ευκαιρία. Και καλά έκανα! Όσο προχωράει η υπόθεση, σε ιντριγκαρει. Μπορεί να ειναι λίγο πιο νεανικό σαν ανάγνωσμα άρα και πιο  απλοϊκό, ωστόσο, περιγράφει τις σκηνές με τέτοιον τρόπο, μαγικό και συνάμα ρεαλιστικό που εξαφανίζει τον ...more
Siobhan
May 10, 2016 Siobhan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to enjoy this one so much more than I did. I really did try, honestly. In fact, there were points where I considered giving it three stars instead of two. Unfortunately, in the end, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do so.

The story is an interesting one, and there is so much promise. However, it isn’t as well done as it could have been. For such a short read, so little happens. When books are this length things should happen at a rapid fire pace, yet such was not the case with this one.
...more
Jim
Wonderfully creepy. Has a real air of mystery. Not really sure where it is set or when, but I'll bet the follow up book(s) will be worth reading, too. My only complaint was this left me hanging a bit. While there was a climax, there's obviously a lot more to come.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
Meh.

The relationship between Valerian and Boy in this book reminded me a lot of the one in The Monstrumologist - though, in fairness, this book was written first. Basically, Boy is a street urchin and orphan that Valerian takes in and generally treats like a slave, and Boy is so desperate for attention and affection that he just wants to please the miserable old git. There are moments where you might think Valerian does care for Boy, deep down, but, well, it doesn't amount to much in the end. (v
...more
Janeen-san
Apr 14, 2012 Janeen-san rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one!
This book had SO much potential, but it didn't live up to any of it. An incredibly disappointing read with incredibly flat characters. If Valerian treated Boy so badly, why was he bothering to help him? Why did Boy CARE about someone who abused him on a daily basis?! This book let me down completely. It could have been SO much better. It could have been a romping, exciting adventure filled with mystery and chases throughout dark streets, but instead ended up being a read with characters flatter ...more
GoldGato
Here is a winter tale for the young adult set, evoking magic and gothic melodrama in a fairly easy read. The timeframe of the story takes place during the Dead Days, that sargasso sea of time between Christmas and New Year's Day, when 'spirits roam'. This would be a perfect read for pre-teens and younger adults who yearn for more magic-infused tales, post-Harry Potter.

I enjoyed the plot and the main characters, particularly Valerian. Any story lead named after a long-dead (and stuffed) Roman emp
...more
Hollowspine
May 29, 2009 Hollowspine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I liked this book. The setting and characters were all interesting and the storyline was absorbing. I did get a little confused about Boy's age though, when I found out he was a teenager I was surprised. The way he acted and was described earlier had me thinking he was at oldest 12 years old. My favorite character was the enigmatic, selfish and terrible Valerian. One thing that I would have enjoyed from the book that was not given was more explanation about the magic Valerian performs. I wish in ...more
Nikki
I 'accidentally' picked up The Book of Dead Days last night -- as I usually do, just intending to read a couple of pages. Even when I knew I'd have to get up early in the morning, I was sucked in. It's a very quick read, and a compelling one, although the cliffhangers at the end of chapters, coupled with very short chapters, felt a little cheap... At any rate, it hurtles along at a good pace. It doesn't solve everything, either, so I'll be looking for the sequel sometime soon.

The characters are
...more
Ryan Mark
Jan 03, 2015 Ryan Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago, and since my first read of this darkly entertaining novel, I've read it many more times, finding something more exciting within its pages every time. From the first couple of words, the mysterious world Marcus Sedgwick created drew me in. I was compelled by the dark and sinister vibe this book gave off, and captured by the characters we follow throughout the story. I was incredibly happy when Sedgwick released a sequel, and although it concluded the story and gav ...more
Sesana
Mostly a good read, but with a lot of loose ends. Real sequel fodder. The best thing is probably the atmosphere. Gloomy and vividly imagined, it was the scenery that got me most invested in the books. Not the characters, sadly. Boy is little more than a shadow of a person (possibly intentionally). Willow has a lot of life and spirit to her, but we don't spend nearly enough time in her head to enjoy it. The ending is incredibly abrupt. It ends the storyline here, but leaves so many unanswered que ...more
Aaron Vincent
Originally Posted on Guy Gone Geek

I really hate myself for not reading this book on the dates the book revolves around: December 27th to December 31st also known as the dead days. The reading experience would have been better and perhaps even creepier. But then again, it was a really dark and gloomy book, and I am planning to limit the books that I will read on the holidays to cheerful books. I sure didn’t want to have a gloomy mood when everyone is expected to be cheerful. I guess I did the rig
...more
Aelvana
Sep 17, 2015 Aelvana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boy has been the assistant to the magician Valerian for nearly as long as he can remember. Boy helps with his magic show, looks after him in his home, runs his errands. In return, Valerian provides him a place to stay and sometimes teaches him things like reading. But things are changing. A murderer is roaming the city. Valerian is uneasy---frantically driven to find something in the last few days between Christmas and the New Year. Joined by Willow, a girl from the theater, the three have only ...more
Sara Majewski
The Dead Days are the days between Christmas and New Year's Eve. They are days when magic is in abundance and the spirits of the long lost dead roam free. Anything is possible in such times. In this dark fantasy novel, we follow in the footsteps of Boy, a young enigmatic orphan who works as a servant, and his master whom he fears, the magician Valerian. Valerian has always been quite harsh; but his behavior has suddenly switched to anxious and on edge. Boy is sent on strange quests by Valerian's ...more
Jiye
Dec 15, 2016 Jiye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Book of Dead Days is a story about a magician called Valerian and his famulus called Boy. The days in between Christmas and New Year are the dead days. Valerian has only 4 days to live and he will die on the dawn of the New Year. He must save his own life and there are two kids who tried to help him. One kid is called Boy who is Valerian’s famulus and he has no name. Also, another kid is the orphan girl called Willow. Together they are trying to save Valerian. The setting of this book was ve ...more
Sam Whitehouse
Nov 14, 2013 Sam Whitehouse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most arresting thing about this book is how masterfully Sedgwick builds atmosphere. Almost immediately there is a sense of dread and eeriness and it is sustained throughout the entire story. But rather than making this a depressing read, it drew me into the strange world this story takes place in. The story is relatively straight forward, a young boy in the employ of a cruel master becomes embroiled in a plot that involves a supernatural force that manifests in the days between Christmas and ...more
Adrienne
Mar 31, 2009 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-count-08
The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick, was an appropriate read, as it takes place during the “Dead Days” - the period between Christmas and New Years. Have you ever noticed that those days between December 25 and January 1 seem to be kind of hazy? They don’t really belong anywhere, and you’re really just treading water until the first of the new year. While I’ve kind of felt that in years past, with the wacky weather we had this year, and missing a bunch of work, I’ve really felt like the las ...more
Kristen
Aug 17, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I re-read this over the weekend since I have a number of friends who really liked it. But I still just thought it was ok - even upon re-read. I understand the idea of Boy not knowing anything about who he is - but I felt is was almost lazy to at least not give him a name. And Kepler and his role was a little too convenient. I don't know - I am ok with having loose ends - story arcs that keep you moving from one book to the next. But I felt like I have no information to motivate me into wanting t ...more
Cindy
Jun 27, 2015 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am torn about this story. On one hand, I liked the setting and the feel of this - kind of creepy and mysterious. The quest brings Boy and Willow together to try to save Valerian, Boy's master. Valerian has just days to save himself; he basically sold his soul fifteen years before and now comes the accounting - well, unless he can find the book that will explain how to get out of the mess. The problem with this book was the ending - it was w-a-y too abrupt. I realize that there is more to the s ...more
Ryan Mishap
Jan 24, 2010 Ryan Mishap rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey! I'm glad I found this again because this book was creepy as all get out. This guy writes horror for young adults/kids that harken back to the days before excessive gore and shocking violence. The horror hinges on atmosphere, suffocating atmosphere and the sense that there is no escape.
A magician made a deal with a demon and the time for Due Notices has passed. He digs in graveyards with the help of a boy, his assistant, looking for something to free him--all the while knowing the soul to fr
...more
Kathryn
I've been meaning to read this book at the proper time of the year--the "dead days" between Christmas and New Year's--for several years and finally managed it. It's the story of Boy, an orphan of unknown origin who serves Valerian, a Faustian magician with a shady past that's about to catch up with him. I was so intrigued by these characters and settings, but was disappointed by the "to be continued" ending that left so many questions unanswered. Does every YA book have to turn into a trilogy or ...more
Rik
Nov 01, 2014 Rik rated it liked it
It was ok, the story setting a little like Jonathon Strouds' Bartimaus series (though I think they were better). The emphasis is on the plot rather than the characters, which left it feeling a little shallow for my liking (but then it is aimed at teenagers I suppose). If my son gets the next one out from the library I will probably read it, as the story was interesting enough for a quick read.
Daisy
Jul 27, 2013 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I was expecting from this book wasn't really what I got. That's sounds quite negative, but in a lot of ways it isn't. I did really enjoy this book, I was just a bit surprised when it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

Boy is an orphan with no memory of his life before he was picked up by Valerian. Now he works for the magician, helping him trick his audience into the various illusions of his creation. But with his master's growing impatience and distraction, Boy can tell there's someth
...more
Ellie
May 24, 2017 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
This book is so different from all of the other Sedgwick I've read! It's more typically my style: mystery with a hint of magic. I normally have to set aside time for a Sedgwick novel - I need to devote my attention to the text because he is such an eloquent, poetic writer that I have a similar experience when reading his books to what I feel when I read my favorite classics. This book is far more approachable, and it therefore has more mass appeal in my opinion. I quickly got through the first b ...more
Dara in the Clouds
This was good! It's a good spooky read and really intriguing the whole way through.
Miss Bookiverse
Jul 10, 2008 Miss Bookiverse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who liked The Graveyard Book & Lemony Snicket
The Book Of Dead Days lag schon ewig, ewig, ewig in meiner Bücherkiste. Ich hatte es vor Jahren unbedingt kaufen müssen, wegen des schönen Covers und weil ich die Idee der "toten Tage" zwischen Weihnachten und Neujahr so cool fand. Allerdings bin ich damals nie über die ersten 50 Seiten hinausgekommen, was ich mir heute nur damit erklären kann, dass ich die Sprache damals zu kompliziert fand. Inzwischen habe ich das Buch nämlich innerhalb von 2 Tagen ausgelesen und fand es super.

Die Geschichte h
...more
Kyra
Dec 10, 2016 Kyra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Sep 05, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mature 10-11 year-olds and teenagers who like suspense and thriller
Recommended to Amy by: The cover :)
The Book of Dead Days was a quite unusual book.

For all my life I have thought that there was indeed something strange about the days between Christmas and New Year's, however it was not until I read this book that I finally put my finger on it - quiet and stillness. It's like everyone goes into hibernation-mode for the five days after Christmas...



Honestly, I'm ashamed of myself for having not noticed this.


In further detail:


The Name of the book!?

(view spoiler)
...more
Anna
I picked up this book at the library on the enthusiastic recommendation of one of my favourite review sites, and it wasn't until I saw the cover that I realised I've actually read Marcus Sedgwick before.

It's just as well that I read the review first, because the one Marcus Sedgwick book I'd read previously ( My Swordhand is Singing ) I found tedious in the extreme, and I'd have been unlikely to have picked this one up if I'd been going by the author alone. Which would have been a great pity.

It m
...more
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Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of "The Hea ...more
More about Marcus Sedgwick...

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