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My Swordhand Is Singing Hardcover – October 9, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"A finely written, bone-chilling gothic tale." - Publishing News

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly (circ: 34,456), November 12, 2007:
"Sedgwick knows his way around a gothic setting, and readers will likely devour this bone-chiller."

About the Author

Marcus Sedgwick is the award-winning author of several books, including The Dark Horse, The Book of Dead Days, and The Foreshadowing. He is a sales representative for Walker Books in London, and lives in Sussex, England.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2008
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (October 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375846891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375846892
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,538,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Marcus Sedgwick's MY SWORDHAND IS SINGING is a dark novel with a heavy emphasis on thick, snowy forests of Eastern Europe, gypsies, and superstitious town folk. It is the perfect setting for a scary story, but it is also much, much more.

Tomas and his teenage son, Peter, are a pair of traveling woodcutters with a mysterious past that settle down in the village of Chust one winter. Before long a string a deaths strike the village. Peter is perturbed by the villagers' strange reactions to the occurrences. When he asks Tomas about them, his father brushes away his questions as silly folk lore. However, Tomas is also doing his own share of strange things, like digging a trench around their home and filling it with moving water. When Agnes, a girl Peter likes, is symbolically married to a dead man and shut up in a remote hut, Peter tries to rescue her and runs into a monster.

Sedgwick takes pains to distance his tale from the gentleman bloodsucker that Anne Rice and authors like her have embedded into pop culture. The word "vampire" is never mentioned and the vampires, themselves, have varying appearances throughout the novel. He does a great job at weaving various and sometimes seemingly paradoxical pieces of folk lore. This gives the story a great sense of immediacy and realism. Sedgwick also shifts the focus from vampires to people who have to deal with terrifying occurrences at home. The buildup of the growing atmosphere of fear and denial will have readers biting their fingernails.

Marcus Sedgwick seems to take a lot of risks in writing this atypical, historically rich vampire novel. Central to the story line is not the relationship between a human and vampire or a girl and a boy (a la Buffy and Angel), but a wounded relationship between father and son.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 1, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Are you sick of wannabe vampires who sparkle instead of self-combust in the sunlight and who mope around high-schools instead of stalking the terrified living in order to slake their never-ending thirst for blood? I know I am, which is why I thoroughly enjoyed Marcus Sedgewick's "My Swordhand is Singing," a vampire tale that does away with modern interpretations of lovelorn emo-vamps and instead draws upon the oldest known records of these creatures in order to shape its chilling story.

Set in Eastern Europe (most likely Transylvania, though this is never specified) in the early 17th century, Peter and his father Tomas have only recently settled on the outskirts of the village of Chust, lending their services as woodcutters, and are still treated as outsiders by the suspicious villagers. To be fair, the behaviour of Tomas is strange enough to warrant their attention. Not only a heavy drinker, Tomas has built his house on the fork of a river and dug a channel that connects the two adjourning streams so that he and his son live on a man-made island.
Peter is somewhat embarrassed by his father's behaviour, especially since he has his eye on a pretty village girl called Agnes, and neither does he understand why his father carries around a long wooden box that Peter is never allowed to open.

But stranger things are happening in the village of Chust. Livestock has gone missing, and there are reports of the recently dead visiting their loved ones at night. There is a spate of unusual deaths that have the community on a knife's edge, and the arrival of a band of gypsies does little to assuage the tension.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By celticriver on February 25, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
i was quite surprized at the fierceness of tension and action the author put to page. it's a vampire story where the word "vampire" is never said. and these are not your "twilight" type vampires--attractive, brooding, and romantic. actually, they behave more like ghouls than vamps, but a good story it was nonetheless. the prose was incredibly literate: "there was nothing for Tomas now . . .just the sword, which flew so fast that the air itself was cut in two." there is also a moral to the story--that you reap only heartbreak and despair when you deny your destiny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on December 13, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Peter and his father Tomas arrive at a remote village plagued with mysterious deaths. At first Peter is confused when he father builds a moat around their small woodcutter's hut but soon Peter realizes that a vampire is hunting the woods searching for new victims. This novel opens with a gruesome attack on a woodcutter. These are not romantic "Twilight" vampires. Sedgwick uses the Eastern European legends of the nosferatu and vurkodlak: monsters who are considered diseases in human form. The novel is filled with strange superstitious rituals such as the Miorita where a young woman is forcibly married to unmarried man who has been killed and shut away in a hut outside the village. The relationship between Peter and his father is intense and Tomas is an alcoholic haunted by his past. Peter learns how his father's history as a warrior as marked his life and must make the decision whether to follow in his footsteps. Scary but very complex and moving as well. Marcus Sedgwick is a personal favourite who approaches horror and supernatural subjects with inteligence and peoples his works with unique characters and situations. The sequel "Kiss of Death" is equally frightening as well.
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