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The Book Of Dead Days is an engaging and entertaining fantasy aimed at young teenagers that can be enjoyed by both younger readers and adults alike! Set in an unnamed city, at a time when science was just developing and people still had faith in magic and curiosity about the unexplained, the book follows the adventures of Boy who works as a magicians apprentice to Valerian; a man of ill repute whose dabbles in the dark arts have seen him mostly shunned by polite society even though they still flock to see his stage show at the local theatre.
Willow works at the theatre too, looking after the highly esteemed singer who follows Valerian's act. When she is asked to reurn to the theatre after hours to retrieve something of Madames that has been left behind, she stumbles across the body of Korp, the Theatre Director, who has been killed by something known locally as "The Phantom." Fleeing for her life, Willow collides with Boy, out on an errand for his own Master, and finds herself caught up in a tale of forbidden magic, secrets and lies and a quest to help Valerian escape the Faustian deal he struck many years ago before the sands of time run out!
This is a great little novel that strides along at a hasty pace with lots of action scenes and moments of tension, barely pausing for a moment for breath! I really enjoyed it though the ending is a bit of an anti-climax and a lot is left unexplained! All this is supposedly resolved in the next book, The Dark Flight Down, but to build to such a disappointing end really spoilt this for me, marking it down from 4 *s to a humble and very average 3*! For me, it almost felt as though the publishers and editors had said to the author "We want so many pages, no more and no less" and as the writer became close to this, he simply didn't know how it all should end and such a blatant way of selling you the sequel also feels a tad like ripping off loyal fans who might have enjoyed this but might have liked an ever-so slightly tidier ending!
I have no problem with buying the next book in the sequence but don't make me feel as though I have to if I want any answers! I enjoy a cliff-hanger as much as anyone but the ending of Dead Days just felt so disappointing compared to all that came before!
Overall I would recommend this but probably only if you have the next book already so that you can read them together. Because read on its own, this is a good book that feels like it finishes before the story is done rather like a cake removed from the oven too early!