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

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  2,117 ratings  ·  219 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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.
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
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
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
Hollowspine
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
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
Cindy
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
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
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
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
Kristen
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
Adrienne
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
Janeen-san
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 Mark
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
Rik
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.
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
Karen
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
Sara Espinosa
OK I have to be honest with myself on this review. I do not like Marcus Sedgwick's writing. I tried reading another one of his novels (She is not invisible) and I did not like but I still wanted to give this one a try. I don't think it was worth it. For instance, the world building was a little poor. I found myself in the middle of the book not even knowing how the City was set up or what kind of people lived in it. I didn't know if this was pure fantasy or of there was a hint of post-apocalypti ...more
Fantasy Literature
The "Dead Days" are what author Marcus Sedgwick calls the time between Christmas and New Year's Day, on account of their quiet, mysterious atmosphere; an idea drawn from various mythologies that hold that certain days of the year mark the time when doors to the spirit world open to those of the living. The Book of Dead Days is set entirely within the five-day period between December 27th and December 31st in a sprawling turn-of-the-century city where experiments in electricity and magnetism are ...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
Kimi
I had heard so many good things about this book and I was soooooo disappointed with it. It was basically the same idea as The Monstrumologist (orphan boy is taken in by a mean old man who does weird science/magic stuff) and I know this book was published first, but Rick Yancey did this type of story way better.

And it just felt like things were happening for no reason. I feel like characters were just doing whatever they wanted and changing their minds for no reason other than the fact that the a
...more
Rachel
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
Kas
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
Desi
It was a bland book. Not bad enough for me to put down, but the whole time I was reading it I couldn't wait to move on to the next book in my TBR pile.

It was an interesting story, but there was just too much vagueness. I wanted to know more about the magic, more about these murders, more about the theater, more about Valerian, basically.

I understand that it was setting up for the next book, but I didn't feel like the ending was wrapped up too well either, barely any of the mystery was cleared u
...more
Trisha
Het was twee uur voor middernacht. Boy zat opgekruld in de kist. Zoals gewoonlijk sliepen zijn benen, afgekneld als ze werden in de kleine donkere ruimte die in de buitenkist verborgen zat. Boven hem hoorde hij Valeriaan zijn kunsten vertonen. Voor Boy klonk de stem ver weg en hij probeerde te berekenen hoe lang het nog duurde. Hij mocht zijn wachtwoord niet missen; dat zou een ramp zijn. Maar Boy wist dat hij zich niet echt ongerust hoefde te maken. Hij had vaker geprobeerd om het precieze mome ...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
Miss Bookiverse
Jan 12, 2015 Miss Bookiverse 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
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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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