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The Dark Flight Down

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Held captive in the palace of the Emperor Frederick, Boy and Willow are plunged into a world of gilded finery and splendour. But beneath its golden veneer lies cruelty, madness and desperation. They are in terrible danger as they confront the whirlwind furies of the Emperor, the calculating ambitions of his confidante, Maxim, and follow a deadly trail which will lead them to the Phantom. Packed with mystery and intrigue, the truth about Boy's identity and many other shattering secrets, are all reevealed as the BOOK OF DEAD DAYS is opened for the final time in Marcus Sedgwick's conclusion to a mesmerising story.
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Promotional Information

The hardback edition of THE DARK FLIGHT DOWN sold 10,754 since publication in July 2004. THE BOOK OF DEAD DAYS was longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award and has now sold almost 46,000 copies (over 9000 in hardback and 36,870 in paperback). THE DARK HORSE, which has sold 42,000 copies, was shortlisted for major awards including the Guardian Children's Book Award, the Carnegie Medal and the Blue Peter Book Award. FLOODLAND, his first novel, won the Branford Boase Award in 2001, acknowledging Marcus Sedgwick as 'an exceptional new talent'. He has been published in 13 languages. Works in publishing and is known to many booksellers. 'This is an elegantly plotted, exquisitely gothic tale which confirms Sedgwick's status as one of our finest contemporary children's authors.' Joanne Owen, The Bookseller Poster available.

About the Author

Marcus Sedgwick has worked in children's publishing for ten years and before that he was a bookseller. He is also a stone carver and wood engraver and illustrates all his novels. His first book Floodland was hailed as 'a dazzling debut from a new writer of exceptional talent'. Floodland won the Branford Boase Award for the best first children's novel of 2000. Marcus lives in Sussex and has a young daughter.


The characters in Sedgwick's (The Dark Horse) gothic chiller lurk in darkened theaters, alleyways and graveyards. The novel centers around a charlatan who years ago made a deal with a devil-and whose time is almost up. Valerian runs the magic show in the Great Theater, along with his assistant, an orphan he calls Boy, useful chiefly "because of his expertise at squeezing into ridiculously small spaces," to help with the magical illusions. As the unspecified year ("somewhere in the second half of the eighteenth century" writes the author in his introduction) draws to a close, violence begins to erupt-the owner of the theater is killed in gruesome fashion, and slowly Boy learns that Valerian is hiding a dark secret and evading a hellhound on his trail. The man's wisdom and magical prowess, it turns out, were bequeathed 15 years ago in a deal for his soul, a deal which is about to come due, during the "dead days" of the title (the stretch between Christmas and New Year's). The leisurely setup immerses readers in the delectably eerie surroundings (the book is two-thirds finished before Valerian begins to spill some of his secrets); those eager for action may grow impatient. But Sedgwick's atmosphere is so well rendered, the fog on the cobblestone streets so tangibly thick, that most will likely get caught up in this exotic era and its creepy characters. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Gr 6-9-Set in a European city in the late 18th century, this tale of magic and treachery, the first of a two-book set, takes place during the "Dead Days" that lie between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Boy, who lacks both a real name and any knowledge of his past, is the virtual slave of a disagreeable magician, Valerian, who treats him either with indifference or cruelty. Several harrowing events, including a mysterious murder, bring Willow, a clever orphan girl, into their lives. The theme is a classic one, for Valerian has sold his soul to some ill-defined otherworldly spirit in return for earthly pleasures. Now his time of reckoning is at hand, and he must find a way to save himself before December 31 or be lost forever. The two teens accompany him on a seemingly crazed quest for a book that might hold the answer. The novel is heavily overlaid with a sense of foreboding, and the language powerfully describes the bleak weather and the squalor of the decaying city. Part of the adventure takes place in a dismal graveyard, part in a terrifying maze of subterranean canals. Unexpected twists keep the action moving, and the suspense never flags. In the end, much is explained yet much remains uncertain. Readers who enjoy fast-paced melodrama with an overlay of the supernatural will devour this tale and wait eagerly for the next installment.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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