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

(Book of Dead Days #1)

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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  2,752 Ratings  ·  284 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
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Wendy Lamb Books (first published July 17th 2003)
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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 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
Fatemeh
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, on-the-way
بقیشو میخوامممممم
کاش همینم انگلیسی خونده بودم :))

من نثر مارکوس سدویک رو خیلی دوست دارم. آدماشو. دنیاهاشو. بچه تر که بودم آرزوم بود اون مجموعه ی دیگه ش که در مورد یه پسر مو مشکی و دختر مو سفید/بلوند (یادم نمیاد) رو بخونم. وقتی شروع کردم به انگلیسی خوندن نمی دونم چرا یادم رفت انقدر دلم میخواست اون مجموعه رو بخونم؟
به هرحال، حالا دارم اینو میخونم. دوسش داشتم خیلی.
چهار و نیم رند به پنج.
Siobhan
May 10, 2016 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.
Rachel
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

This was really fun because I read it during the "dead days" and finished it on New Year's Eve. Just like in the book!

While I liked the story and the setting, I felt it could have been more...more magical, more exciting...I don't know. It felt as if it was lacking something.

But I love Marcus Sedgwick's writing. I really enjoyed Midwinterblood, probably a little more than this one. I'd like to read more of his stuff.
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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it liked it
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
Dec 17, 2010 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Karyl
I found this book on one of our jaunts around to the Ocean State libraries. I remember thinking to myself, "Do I REALLY need another book??" and deciding to get it anyhow because it seemed so interesting. As it turns out, I really could have left it on the shelf.

The premise intrigues me, as I've always felt the "dead days" aspect of the week between Christmas and New Year's. Unfortunately, the execution of this book falls so very flat. It's a fast read, but nothing really seems to happen. And th
...more
Aaron Vincent
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: english-1-honors
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 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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 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
Dave Courtney
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
There are some relatively strong moments in The Book of Dead Days (which I was surprised to find out was a series) that highlight the book's potential, particularly when it comes to building the relationship between The Boy and Valerian. And if you enjoy an Old World setting filled with pictures of snow falling and cobblestone streets and canals and old buildings and of course magic, you should find lots to enjoy here.

The story itself is inspired by the old Egyptian calendar, a traditional 360
...more
Ryan Mishap
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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 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
Wilhelmina Joyce Jui Wren
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is unusual in that the protagonist has no name, and is simply referred to as "boy" throughout the narrative. This seems rather unplausible, but in the unfolding of the narrative the reader anricipates that there is a very good reason for this, and indeed there is. Not to spoil the book for others, but the plot is familiar; the characters are depicted with such accuity however, that your interest is in the personages, not the story, because in part you know how it will end. Valerian is ...more
Ellie
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
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
P.A. Pursley
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-books
Like the story itself, I was meant to pick up this book when I did. I was looking for one more book to read by the end of 2017 and picked this one off my shelf. I started reading it on Dec. 28th and the book takes place from Dec. 27th through Dec. 31st.

This is the story of Boy. Assistant to the world renown illusionist Valerian. In his search to find the cure for impending death, Valerian will learn that the child he took in so many years ago plays a more significant role in his life than he wo
...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

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Book of Dead Days (2 books)
  • The Dark Flight Down (Book of Dead Days, #2)