Krista the Krazy Kataloguer's Reviews > My Swordhand is Singing

My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
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's review
Feb 21, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-ya-book-club-a-z-challenge, read-ya, read-goodreads-authors
Read in February, 2012

I'm not really into vampire stories these days, so it was with trepidation that I began to read this book. However, the vampires in this story are not the slickly dressed neck-biters, but closer to the original, folkoric idea of an animated corpse seeking the blood of the dead. Sedgwick draws upon the earliest traditions from all over eastern Europe to create this chilling, suspenseful tale of a small village in the woods and the evil overshadowing it in the winter gloom. Our hero, Peter, has been taught all his life by his father not to believe in peasant superstitions, so at first he cannot accept the strange events that begin to happen around him. As he witnesses more and more of these things with his own eyes, however, he grows to question what his father has told him. He learns that his father is a very different person from the one he has always known, and that he holds a secret vital to the survival of those still living in the village. With the help of Sofia, a gypsy girl, Peter is determined to do what he can to stop the undead creatures.

What struck me most about this book was how much superstition was ingrained into the lives of the villagers. In fact, though a priest resided in the church in the village, he seemed to hold much less power and influence over the people than the feldsher (doctor/sorcerer). At times, both strands of belief intertwined, acted in unison, as with the hawthorn to keep the undead in their graves at the funeral of Stefan. The story seems to take place two or three hundred years ago, and it amazes me how differently we think now--such a paradigm shift. Superstition to science.

I enjoyed the characters in this story very much, and the atmospheric setting, and may actually read the next book in the series. Recommended--not your usual vampire story.
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