11 June 2009

The Kiss of Death

by Marcus Sedgwick

Hachette Children’s Books. Young Adult, Mystery. Paperback rrp $17.99

You can’t tell a book by its cover. Or can you? One look at the cover of The Kiss of Death and I knew I had to read it. Haunting and eerie. Gothic and grey. Lifeless expect for the black birds flying.

Marko’s father, Alessandro, is missing in Venice. Alessandro is a doctor who left his wife and nine children to help Simono, an old friend. When Marko’s mother receives a strange letter and note and Marko, the eldest child, sets off from their village to travel to Venice to look for his father. He has a name and a place to meet and that is all.

Set in the 18th Century, The Kiss of Death is an engrossing story of vampires and belief.

Marko meets Sorrel, Simono’s daughter. Simono is going mad with a sickness that doesn’t allow him to sleep. Alessandro was treating Simono but disappeared. Marko and Sorrel need to find Alessandro and a cure for Simono.

With very few clues, Marko and Sorrel start combing the canals and islands of Venice. Strange things are happening and when they meet up with Peter, the world becomes an even stranger place.

Peter is on the hunt for the Shadow Queen. He has been killing her army over many years and he has come to Venice to stop her from building it up again. What have Peter, Alessandro and Simono got in common? How can Marko and Sorrel help when they don’t believe?

Venice is a traditional backdrop for dark deeds and Sedgwick has created a gothic mystery that keeps unravelling right to the very last page. I would love to visit Venice but am feeling fearful of what I might find there!

Marcus Sedgwick’s Blood Red Snow White was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Reading Stack.

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