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The Count of the Living Death [Kindle Edition]

Joshua Grasso
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $0.99
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  • Length: 231 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Count Leopold always wondered about the strange chest sealed with three magic locks. His father warned him never to mention the Box—nor pry into the secret chamber where it was kept. Now the Box has begun speaking to Leopold, begging him to find the key and undo the hateful locks. If he does so, it promises him to fulfill his every desire, even offering him the hand of the forbidden—and forbiddingly named— Lady Mary Bianca Domenica de Grassini Algarotti. However, before unfastening the third lock he catches a glimpse of something unspeakable inside—and turns to the only man who shared his father’s secret, the legendary Conjurer-Magician, Hildigrim Blackbeard. A man who, if the stories are true, will exact a terrible price in return for his service.

Editorial Reviews


Reviewed by Si Ning Yeoh for Readers' Favorite

Four out of Five Stars 
Joshua Grasso's The Count of Living Death (The Chronicles of Hildigrim Blackbeard) is a suspenseful tale of magic, intrigue, and love set against the backdrop of a grim medieval world. Count Leopold of Cinquefoil lives the good life of wealth and privilege, but a single moment of impulsive curiosity threatens to undo it all. To defeat the terrible evil that threatens to escape into the world, Leopold has no choice but to call in the feared Conjurer-Magician, Hildigrim Blackbeard, for help. Blackbeard's task will not be made easy, however, by the involvement of Mary, Leopold's headstrong and passionate love interest, as well as of Ivan, Leopold's tragic and bitter step-brother. Secrets will be uncovered, tricks will be played, and betrayals will be committed as Leopold and his companions race against time to outwit their enemies and survive against all odds. 

Joshua Grasso's The Count of Living Death is a brilliantly fast-paced story which throws readers immediately into the thick of the action. Many a time had I barely drawn a breath of relief as Leopold escaped from some danger only to sigh in despair as he fell into the clutches of yet another enemy. The gripping tension of the plot is nicely tempered by the satirical humor in Grasso's writing style. I loved the snappy dialogue and wry observations the characters made throughout the book. I anticipate seeing more of this world in future sequels, particularly if they involve more of Blackbeard and Ivan, whose colorful personalities often eclipsed the more cliched characters of Leopold and Mary. All in all, I highly recommend this as a great read.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3423 KB
  • Print Length: 231 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Joshua Grasso (December 2, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FQ6711Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #966,706 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure of a Find March 7, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I rarely pick up a sci-fi or fantasy book without some element other than just the genre recommending it to me. This is not because I do not enjoy these worlds and the stories set within them. It's more because the worlds all strike me as far too similar. Too many authors seem to be trying to recreate the greats and in so doing failing to find their own voice. If I want to read George Martin, I'll read George Martin. No one else can quite do what he does and get away with it.

I am therefore quite pleased to report that from the first pages, Joshua Grasso's _The Count of the Living Death_ exceeded all my expectations of what I might find in an "unknown" author of fantasy. This book captured me like few other fantasy books do, and it did not let go. In all fairness, the plot is not completely original, but it is delivered in such a way that even a cynical reader like me barely notices. The writing is incredibly crisp, the dialogue (where so many authors fail) is frankly brilliant, particularly for a work that, at least when I was first exposed to it, is marketed as a children's book. I was never acutely aware I, as a middle-aged man, was not the target audience. I am quite pleased to see an author not hold his readers in contempt and trust them to "get it." It makes the journey through this novel all the more pleasurable.

Most of all, Grasso has created a world I want to explore further. I can give no greater recommendation to a book than to say I feel it was too short, that I was not ready for it to end, and that I hope the author continues to roam around in that universe and let us see more of its secrets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Count of the Living Death March 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I am so glad that I read this book, adventure, love, dragons, magic and outwitting death are all woven together in this fantastic tale.

Count Leopold has a strange locked chest that is calling to him...literally. He listens to the voice in the box and unlocks the first two locks, but hesitates on the third and decides to call upon the magician who locked the box in the first place, Hildigrim Blackbeard. Hildigrim must release Leopold's fate and risk his life, the life of his love, Lady Mary and Leopold's half brother, Ivan the terrible in order to outwit death itself.

My favorite part of The Count of the Living Death is Mary's character, she is an intelligent, quick-witted female character who is fighting for love but making sound decisions and fending for herself-even in front of a dragon. it's very refreshing to have a strong female lead in adventure story. I was also intrigued by the character of Death itself and enjoyed how Death functioned in the living world as well as the world Death had created for itself. Overall, the story is very well written and keeps the reader entertained through enough twists, turns and magic. While Leopold and Mary are 19 year old, this is a good book for Young Adult and Adult readers alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic and mayhem March 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Riddles, sorcery, swordplay, a robbed grave, dragon fire, sibling (sort of) rivalry, ghosts, and forbidden love all feature in the remarkable world Grasso creates for his readers. Inject a Dumas-like setting with dark magic, and then mitigate it with humor and romance a la The Princess Bride, and you have the first book in what one hopes will become a thriving series. Atypical of most young-adult fantasy fiction, the book inspires readers to think about mortality, to ask, "What would death look like when it came?" The answer, in this book, will most certainly surprise you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
* Some spoilers*

What do all the things noted in my title have to do with this work? Well, of late I have read a couple of fantasy-comedies. This seems to be a new sub-genre of fantasy—at least it is not one of which I previously had been aware. In any case, kudos to those—like Joshua Grasso—who have taken to this concept, run with it and successfully created tales worthy of attention.

As The Count of the Living Death opens, Grasso introduces readers to Count Hildigrim Blackbeard. (What a great name that is! Hildigrim!) Blackbeard is an eccentric wizard, the “legendary Conjurer-Magician and Sorcerer of the Sixth Circle (whatever that means).” Feared by some, pursued by others, Blackbeard has been called to attend Count Leopold of Cinquefoil. It seems the Count’s now-deceased father is/was responsible for a comedic chain-of-events that is about to unravel. So fearful had the late Count been of the possible death of his son, he had arranged for Blackbeard to capture Leopold’s “Death” and to leave it in a chest under lock and key. (Well, three locks, to be more precise.) But, the box called out for Leopold. Indeed, the very fact that it existed “planted a seed in [Leopold’s heart], which grew year by year, watered by his dreams and the occasional nightmare.” Eventually Leopold, though repeatedly warned not go near the chest or to unlock it, was overcome with curiosity. He simply had to know what the chest held. . . . And so, the fun begins.

The Count of the Living Death is almost slapstick in its comedic ways. The story revolves largely around the Count himself who is short on patience and forethought, (not exactly dim-witted, but not the brightest of bulbs) long on his desire for the delightful Lady Mary Bianca Domenica de Grassini Algarotti. As to Mary?
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More About the Author

Joshua Grasso is a professor of English at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. from Miami University, specializing in British Literature from the long eighteenth century. As both a writer and teacher, he uses the past--whether its literature, art, music, or simply ideas--to help us see ourselves through the 'mirror' of time. Even with the passing of centuries, our reflection is remarkably consistent--if occasionally troubling. The Count of the Living Death is his first novel.

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