Somewhere in the deep woods of seventeenth-century Eastern Europe, Peter and his father Tomas, woodcutters by trade, settle down on the outskirts of a tiny village called Chust. Peter is grateful to finally have a place to call home, as most of his short life he has traveled from town to town with his alcoholic and silent father, who never seems to want to stay in one place for too long and refuses to give an explanation why. But as fall turns into winter, Chust is gripped with terror as bodies begin to litter the snowy landscape, bodies of friends and neighbors that have been horribly mutilated. Soon the suspicious villagers are whispering that maybe the murderers are the woodcutter and his son. After all, they are new to the village, and the killings didn’t start until after they arrived. Peter is frightened, but his father is strangely unmoved, calling the villagers superstitious fools. Does Tomas know more than he’s telling about the brutal murders? What followed Peter and his father to the remote village? And can it be stopped from fulfilling its bloody destiny? Peter believes the answers lies in the large, weather-beaten box that Tomas refuses to allow him to open–a box long enough to hold a sword…Brit author Marcus Sedgwick manages to write an entire terrifying historical novel about the mythological European origins of the blood sucking undead without once using the “V” word. His fascinating story is full of interesting tidbits of forgotten folklore, like the Nunta Mortului, or The Wedding of the Dead. If a young unmarried man dies in his prime, his corpse is “married” to the oldest village girl, who must live in isolation for forty days as she “mourns” him and is considered a widow forever after. A deliciously horrible ritual that I can only guess Sedgwick uncovered in his research of the oldest vampire legends of eastern Europe. But even if folklore isn’t your thing, how can you resist one of the best opening lines ever? “When he fell for the fifth time, when his face plunged into the deep snow, when his hands burnt from the cold but he didn’t care…the woodcutter knew he was going to die.” Can you say, “BRRRRRRRR!” times a thousand? This book screams to read, in more ways than one!
My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick