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

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,847 ratings  ·  195 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
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published July 17th 2003)
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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
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
This book is beautifully atmospheric, if you like your atmospheres on the sinister side.

The titular Dead Days are the days between Christmas and New Year, which have the same quality as the pagan rites of seasonal passage: The veil between worlds is thin and spirits roam about more freely than usual.

The story almost immediately starts with a murder, witnessed by a drudge called Boy, a sorcerer's dogsbody who is treated with cruelty.
The sorcerer, Valerian, is a haunted man, in a more literal way...more
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
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
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
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
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
Apr 14, 2012 Janeen-san rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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
Ryan Mishap
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
Gr 6-9-Set in a European city in the late 18th century, this tale of magic and treachery, the first of a two-book set, takes place during the "Dead Days" that lie between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Boy, who lacks both a real name and any knowledge of his past, is the virtual slave of a disagreeable magician, Valerian, who treats him either with indifference or cruelty. Several harrowing events, including a mysterious murder, bring Willow, a clever orphan girl, into their lives. The theme is a...more
TeenFiction Teton County Library
TCL call number: YA SEDGWICK

Stephanie’s rating: 4 stars
What a curious thing this book was! I thought I would be disappointed with the ending, but in actuality I feel pleasant about it. Marcus Sedgwick has written a story that is open to an assortment of conclusions. Every reader will close with a distinct idea of what happened and what will follow, come book 2. From the beginning we follow Boy, assistant to Valerian, a renowned magician, both on stage and off (his off-stage duties are rather cru...more
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 ma...more
I read this when I was incredibly jetlagged in Berlin, and finished it in one sitting. While somewhat engaging, however there also lots of things that I didn't like about this book.

While the plot was straightforward at first - Valerian made a deal with the devil and now must Together a mysterious book that will save his life. Along with him is his apprentice, Boy, and a stray servant that they pick up along the way, Willow. - however Sedgwick tries to be too clever for his own good. The plot twi...more
I first read The Book of Dead Days about five years ago while working in my high school's library. Years later, I recalled vaguely an idea of a book about a boy called only Boy and the magician he worked for, Valerian. That was enough the quickly find the book and decide to reread it. I remembered greatly enjoying the book, especially the character Valerian. I might have loved the book entirely just for Valerian.

I wasn't as fond of The Book of Dead Days this time around. It was an enjoyable and...more
Stephanie Franco
What a curious thing this book was! I thought I would be disappointed with the ending, but in actuality I feel pleasant about it. Marcus Sedgwick has written a story that is open to an assortment of conclusions. Every reader will close with a distinct idea of what happened and what will follow, come book 2. From the beginning we follow Boy, assistant to Valerian, a renowned magician, both on stage and off (his off-stage duties are rather cruel and upsetting). It's after Christmas and Valerian is...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
Jo Bennie
Two children, Boy, nameless servant and Willow, assistant to singer Madame Beauchance. A magician and alchemist named Valerian using Boy and infernal powers to create illusions for his act at the Great Theatre.

It is the Dead Days, those oddly quiet days between Christmas and New Year. And a terrible drama plays out in the City, a great sprawling decaying metropolis gripped in winter, once magnificent and powerful, now rotting and impoverished.

Valerian was always unpredicatable, carrying out his...more
E.C. Hibbs
This is one of those books which I’ve read so many times, and had for so long, that the pages are yellow and the spine’s lost all firmness. The first time I opened it, about nine years ago, I read it during the ‘Dead Days’ between Christmas and New Year, and that really added to the atmosphere. Saying that, having read it again at the height of summer, it’s still pretty good, but as Sedgwick books go I’d say they all work best either in autumn or winter.

Anyway, I can’t give anything but praise t...more
Infinite Playlist
Feb 19, 2010 Infinite Playlist rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Boy derStraßenjunge wurde von dem Magier Valerian aufgelesen. Er besitzt nichts, nicht einmal einen Namen und an sein Leben vor der Straße erinnert er sich nicht. Darum ist es nicht verwunderlich das Boy seinem Meister mit fast hündischer Unterwürfigkeit in allem beisteht. Doch sein Meister hat sich verändert. In der Woche zwischen Weihnachten und Neujahr, den toten Tagen des Jahres, wird er immer unruhiger und schickt ihn auf immer abenteuerlichere Botengänge. Die Situation spitzt sich zu, denn...more
I currently just finished reading "The Dead Days" by Marcus Sedgwick. This books theme is about sticking together through rough times and doing everything you can to fit in. I feel this way because one of the main characters named Boy, is an orphan and lives on the streets with Valarian. Valarian takes him in but he is homeless so they live in old building in the city. Boy doesn't know his name so to try to fit in he names himself Boy, also to try to fit in he walks around the city with Valarian...more
Star parts: I feel like I read this forever ago, but it's just that I've had a bit of reading spree since I read it. So without further ado, the star parts are... all of it. There we go totally unbiased, unjudgemental reviewing here. Go on, go and read it if you haven't already. All right I'll tell you a bit more. Well straight away Boy (who is the main character by the way) starts off in a sticky situation, but the situation he's in at the beginning is nothing compared to the situation he finds...more
Sam Whitehouse
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
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
The Book of the Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick is a book about a boy without a name given that he does not know who his parents are and even his past that embarks on a journey with Valerian to find a book which contains all the answers that man have asked in order to release Valerian from a spell. Throughout the treasure-hunt-like journey, Boy is accompanied by Willow, another character whom Boy and Valerian met on the way and later saves Boy’s life. Although the book occurs over a course of a few...more
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Heather Layne
There were too many loose ends in this book so that the ending was very unsatisfying. Too many things were brought up and never resolved. I understand wanting characters or events to retain an air of mystery, but I go into a book with certain expectations, and when they're not met, I feel disappointed. In addition, there were SO MANY coincidences. Part of that was to show how things are predestined, a theme throughout the book, but COME ON! Toward the end I couldn't keep up my suspension of disb...more
I picked this book up on a whim from a charity shop and I'm glad I did. The concept of the book - the dead days between Christmas and New Year's Day is excellent. This book is a great, quick read for the YA crowd looking for a bit of magic and danger to fire up the imagination. It might not be on the same scale as other fantasy universes but it still took me away to the City with Boy, Willow and Valerian.
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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
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