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My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick
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My Swordhand is Singing (2006)

by Marcus Sedgwick

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3742628,918 (3.55)26
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Interesting historical novel about vampires. Two stories that are technical sequels and a short story between comprise this book. The first book is My Swordhand is Singing, a story of a boy. Peter and his father, Tomas who go to a small village in eastern Europe and discover that there is an evil in the village feeding on people. The dead are restless and many of the historical vampire myths are used here. There are secrets and lies and messy social complications.

The second book is The Kiss of Death where you discover the story of the Shadow Queen over the course of the story and you also see Peter again. Marko is sent to Venice to see what is happened to his father and Sorrel is a local girl whose father Marko's father went to try to help heal. They get caught up in the Shadow Queen's plots and attempt to take more lives.

Interesting series, using the legends well. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Apr 2, 2014 |
Marcus Sedgwick aced this book with his typical flair, and I would say this book deserved more than the five stars I got give it.


5/5 stars for the plot



This is the typical image your brain will conjure up for you when you think of the undead. That, or rotting corpses like zombies slowly advancing at you with dragging feet. But that is not what happens in this book; in this book, the undead look just as they did alive; in this book, you can delay their approach with charcoal, millet seeds, or even thorns; in this book, the undead will become undead to you as you read of their actions, as you witness the Agnes’s transformation from the what seemed to be Peter’s only foe to his biggest enemy.


4/5 stars for characterization



This is your typical gypsy impression. Light skirts, fortune tellers, dancers, musicians – they’re all what’s stamped into your brain in a category named ‘Gypsy’. Sofia and her group are different. Yes, they sing and dance for money, for entertainment. Yes, they travel from place to place and have no permenant home. Yes, they are considered inferior to normal villagers. But they lead a double life; they will sing and dance to earn money only when necessary – the rest of the time is spent trying to rid the world of the evil undead. They will sacrifice their lives for their cause (hence, Sofia’s father) and feel no remorse to the rest of the world for imprisoning them.

Sofia really came alive to me from page to page. At first, she seemed like some flighty girl willing to sell her body to Peter at her family’s command, but then you come to realize that she is a deeply passionate person who is just doing what she considers best to help her family’s mission. You come to realize that she is a person with feelings, with honour, with integrity – why else would she have come to Agnes’s house and sprinkled millet seeds there if not to save Peter?


So, after doing the maths, I figured the average to be 4.5 stars, or 4 stars, because,to my everlasting regret, there is yet to be half-stars on Goodreads. ( )
  Joyce.Leung | May 24, 2013 |
Peter and his father, Tomas, work in the forest surrounding the village Chust. Tomas is a haunted man, he drinks most of their earnings away and young Peter shoulders the heavy burden of making their living off selling cut wood. It's only after the village succumbs to hysteria and Peter sees the dead walking that he understands why Tomas drinks so much. And only Tomas' secret can save them now.

I didn't know if I was ready to tackle another YA vampire book. They seem to be all the rage these days and that isn't always a good thing. I had heard some good buzz about this one. It does capture the vintage vampire village lore quite well. (Say that three times fast!) I liked that flavor about it, it just didn't have enough edge for me. I wanted more from it and I think I'm expecting too much, being a YA book. I don't think I'll continue with the series. ( )
  VictoriaPL | Jul 29, 2012 |
Review from Badelynge
Marcus Sedgewick takes us to a cold lonely place in the 17th Century in this YA style short horror novel. The dead haunt the snow covered forests of Transylvania. An isolated village hides from the dark and what lurks at the shadows edge, painting their windows with tar and and trusting that evil will not cross their defences. Sedgewick draws on the vampire folklore of the region to deliver a horror story that predates the more romanticised trappings of the last century. A woodcutter and his son live a solitary life on the edges of the dark woods, barely tolerated by the nearby village and running from a bloody past. It's all very well set up by Sedgewick, maintaining a quiet menace by the alchemy of dark woods mixed with snowy isolation. The characterisation though is pretty insipid. The cast are the smooth edged archetypes of fairy tales. It made it hard for this reader to make any sort of connection with them. The vampires are quietly chilling though, devious in their imitation of the people they once were and jealously hateful of the living. They're more recognisably zombie to modern readers or even Deadite to film goers. ( )
  Finxy | Apr 29, 2011 |
Very entertaining horror novel that gives a new twist to the vampire legend. Set in seventeenth century Europe, a woodcutter and his son set up shop in a small village only to find that certain dead villagers seem to be reappearing and causing quite alot of to-do. The woodcutter's past has made him a drunkard much to the chagrin of his kind and handsome son. Add to that the legends of the Shadow Queen and the Winter King and you have a very entertaining story.
comment · ( )
  ken1952 | Feb 24, 2011 |
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For my father
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There is a land beyond the forests.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375846891, Hardcover)

WHEN TOMAS AND HIS SON, Peter, settle in Chust as woodcutters, Tomas digs a channel of fast-flowing waters around their hut, so they have their own little island kingdom. Peter doesn't understand why his father has done this, nor why his father carries a long, battered box, whose mysterious contents he is forbidden to know.

But Tomas is a man with a past: a past that is tracking him with deadly intent, and when the dead of Chust begin to rise from their graves, both father and son must face a soulless enemy and a terrifying destiny.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:29 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In the dangerous dark of winter in an Eastern European village during the early seventeenth century, Peter learns from a gypsy girl that the Shadow Queen is behind the recent murders and reanimations, and his father's secret past may hold the key to stopping her.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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