#HorrorOctober: The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick

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Title: The Kiss of Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: My Swordhand is Singing #2
Edition: Hardback, 248 pages
Publication Details: September 1st 2008 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s):YA; Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads // Purchase

Marcus Sedgwick’s tale of Venice and vampires is a captivating companion volume to the bestselling My Swordhand is Singing.

Marko and Sorrel meet in Venice for the first time. They must uncover the mystery of what has happened both to Sorrel’s father, plagued by a strange madness that prevents him from sleeping, and to Marko’s father, a doctor, who has mysteriously gone missing after travelling to Venice to help his old friend.

Years on from My Swordhand is Singing and Peter is still on the trail of the Shadow Queen. His search leads him to Venice, a city whose beauty disguises many ugly secrets. The Shadow Queen is there, gathering strength, recruiting a new army of the Undead for a final confrontation. This fabled city with its lapping waterways, its crumbling magnificence, dark, twisting alleyways and surprising piazzas is the perfect setting for Marcus’s captivating gothic novel of love and loss in 18th century Venice.

Review

I will read anything this man writes. FACT.

Marcus Sedgwick takes folklore and fairy tales and turns them into Gothic beauty. My Swordhand is Singing was the first Sedgwick book I ever read, and it remains my favourite. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to pick up the sequel.

The Kiss of Death is a story centred around Marko whose father is missing. Last known to have headed to Venice to see a patient- for he is a doctor- Marko heads off in search of him, against his mother’s best wishes.

Marko follows a thin trail and finds Sorrel, the daughter of his Dad’s patient. Sorrel’s father is dangerously ill, driven mad by an inability to sleep, it seems that both men, and now their children, have gotten into something they couldn’t quite imagine.

With the help of Peter (yay Peter’s back!), the three manoeuvre through the canals and streets of Venice to an abandoned Island said to be haunted and cursed since people hit by the Plague were sent there in quarantine years previously. Has Peter finally found the residence of the evil Shadow Queen, and can he save Marko and Sorrel’s fathers from a fate worse than death?

The Kiss of Death is a lyrical, beautifully written book, such as I have come to expect from Sedgwick. I was so happy to be reunited with Peter, and hear more of his tragic, heroic, story.

It’s a book about love, and what it is to simply endure life. In parts it’s dark and depressing, but, it left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Sigh.

The Kiss of Death can easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend My Swordhand is Singing too.

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Spotlight: The Goth Girl Series by Chris Riddell

Being unemployed – which I newly am – is good in the sense that I can wander around bookshops during the week as much as I wish, but bad in sense that I can’t actually justify spending any money right now. 😦

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My will power was really put to test when I saw the beautiful Goth Girl hardbacks on display in my local Waterstones this week. WANT!

The second book in the series, Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death was released on September 25th, and is Waterstones’ Children’s Book of the Month.

How perfect are these for younger readers this Halloween!?

I mean, look how pretty…

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Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death

GG2Preparations for the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party and bake-off are under way. Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event and, true to form, Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is acting suspiciously. Elsewhere at Ghastly-Gorm Ada’s wardrobe-dwelling lady’s maid Marylebone has received a marriage proposal. Ada vows to aid the course of true love and find out what Maltravers is up to, but amidst all this activity, everyone, including her father, appears to have forgotten her birthday!

About the Author

Chris Riddell was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where his father was an Anglican priest and a member of the ANC. The family moved to England in 1963, when Riddell was one year old, and he spent his childhood in a number of different locations, as his father moved between parishes. Both of Riddell’s parents continued to be active in the anti-apartheid movement.

Chris Riddell is an internationally acclaimed writer and illustrator whose many awards include the NestlΓ© Gold Award and two Kate Greenaway Medalsβ€”the most prestigious prize for illustration in the UK. He is the creator of more than one hundred books for all ages, including the immensely popular series the Edge Chronicles and his latest chapter book series, starring the irrepressible Ottoline Brown, which School Library Journal called “exceptional.” Chris lives in Brighton, England, with his wife and three children where he invents his amazing characters in a very tidy shed in his yard. (Goodreads)

What Are People Saying About Goth Girl?

“Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse is one of the best children’s books I’ve read this year. Possibly *the* best. Aside from its truly beautiful presentation, it’s a fantastic gothic story with unusual characters, clever writing and amazing illustrations. The whole package really is a work of art.” – Wondrous Reads

Both illuminated and illuminating this is a magnum opus from the singular talent of Chris Riddell and is certain to be the jewel in the crown of every book case it adorns.”

– Droplets of Ink

“Love. Everything.” – Sarah Churchill, Goodreads

Click on the banner to read the first chapter for free!

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Horror October: Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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This review was originally posted a year ago today, and it was my favourite Horror October read of 2013. I still find myself thinking about it now and again. I want to reread it so bad but it’s just finding the time. Anyway, I thought I would start a tradition of reblogging my favourite Horror October read from the previous year.

And so here it is….

12813630 Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

I think I speak for many when I say that the vampire genre has been somewhat lacking since a certain series, let’s call it Smylight emerged.

Now, I’m not a Twilight hater by any means, quite the opposite, but it has opened up a whole world of shit and lameness when we come to YA Paranormal Romance and of course, vampire lit. I miss the good old days when vampires were actually supposed to be scary (sexy too of course, but scary first and foremost!), and pretty far from ‘normal’.

I miss the days of the more traditional vampire in fiction: Dracula, Carmilla, Lestat. I miss the fucked up worlds of Poppy Brite’s Lost Souls and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine…and here we have it. In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black has taken these sinister and seductive vampires of legend and brought them into a modern, urban world. YES!

Tana is a great protagonist. Prone to inappropriate giggling fits, but other than that pretty awesome. She had it tough when her mum went ‘cold’ which is Black’s take on the vampire infection that has spread from city to city. Once you have been bitten by a vampire, the infection sets in and you begin to crave blood and nothing else. If you can survive without feeding for 88 days the infection passes but y’know, easier said than done.

That’s where the Coldtowns come in. Each city has one, a walled prison in which to quarantine the infected and house the already turned vampires. In Black’s world, the Coldtowns and certain vampires within them have become famous and alluring and they even have live feeds broadcast on TV so everyone can see into the lives of those inside.

Tana wasn’t one of those who dreamed of partying with the beautiful creatures she’d seen on TV, or of living forever but when she finds her best friend infected and chained up with a crazy, weak-looking vampire she knows there is only one place she can go.

Gavriel, the said vampire, is rather messed up which is totally hot. Oh how I’ve missed an insane, unpredictable and brutal vampire character. I’d like to see him and Edward Cullen go at it.

I loved that Holly Black managed to create this dystopian world in the internet age yet hang on to the feel of the traditional vampire. This is is the first novel by her that I’ve read (if you don’t count The Spiderwick Chronicles) and I was deffo impressed. You can tell that she’s a fan of the genre, and for me, she has done it justice. Hurrah!

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Details: Paperback, 432 pages. Published September 17th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
If you like this try: Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is available in paperback from Waterstones, where you can also download a free preview.