Friday, 29 April 2011

My Swordhand is Singing

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.

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