“The Book of Dead Days” by Marcus Sedgwick | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 3/5 | Genre – Fantasy

I’ve had this book for many years, ever since I was in high school. I have a vague memory of reading this one at the time, but there isn’t really anything that stuck with me enough to know what I’d ben coming into reading it this time around. Therefore, it felt like it was the perfect time to pick this book up again and see why its lasted in my collection for as long as it had.

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 is his servant, Boy, a child with no name and no past. The quick-witted orphan girl, Willow, is with them as they dig in death fields at midnight, and as they are swept into the sprawling blackness of a subterranean city on a journey from which there is no escape. (Check it out here).

What did I think?

This was a bit of a weird book for me. When it came to the overall reading experience, it was generally quite easy to get though, it didn’ feel long to read or overly complicated to understand. It had everything that a book needs to make me like it; there was enough magic to feel mystical, and enough darkness to keep me hooked. However, once it got to the third act of the book, when everything is meant to be super intense and coming to a nice end, I found myself really not caring about what was going to happen.

I think where this book went wrong for me was in the characters that were presented in the book. There wasn’t really anything about them that made me want to like or care about what happened to them. I think it was only once it got to the end of the book that I realised there were no feelings towards the characters, when the stakes were really high.

However, all can’t be lost with this book. When it came to the actual plot of the book I found myself enjoying what I was reading. The mystery surrounding the adventure made the story so dark and thrilling to read. As more of the plot unfolded I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Reasons to read The Book of Dead Days…

  • Thrilling plot: What kept me going throughout the book was the ever-thrilling plot. It was great to see the adventure unfold with each chapter. Each part of the book unveiled a darker side to the story, keeping me hooked till the very end.
  • Fast-paced and detailed writing: Despite the issue I had with the characters, what made this book still ok to read was the fast pace to which the plot moved forward. The easy read made the plot that much more interesting, it also brought the world to life with each chapter.

At the end of the day…

As much as I enjoyed the adventure, loving how the plot twisted and turned, unveiling dark parts of this mystical world. However, what made the book fall flat for me were the characters. There just wasn’t enough in the book to feel anything for them. When it came to the final few chapters, with the action coming to a peak and the mystery coming to an end, I found myself not really caring whether the characters made it to the end.

What has intrigued me though is Marcus Sedgwick’s writing. Having looked through some other reviews for this book there were a lot of people praising the writing and his other works. Altough I won’t be reading the sequel to this book, I’ll be on the look of for anymore of Sedgwick’s work.


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