In the bitter cold of an unrelenting winter Tomas and his son, Peter, arrive in Chust and despite the inhospitableness of the villagers settle there as woodcutters. Tomas is churlish – taciturn at the best of times. He digs a channel of fast-flowing waters around their hut so they have their own little island kingdom. Peter doesn’t understand why his father has done this, nor why, all his life they’ve moved from place to place, or why his father carries a long battered box everywhere they go, and why he is forbidden to know its mysterious contents.
But when a band of gypsies comes to the village Peter’s drab existence is turned upside down. He is infatuated by the beautiful gypsy princess, Sofia, intoxicated by their love of life and drawn into their deadly quest.
For these travellers are Vampire Slayers and Chust is a dying community – where the dead come back to wreak revenge on the living. Amidst the terrifying events that follow, Peter is stunned to see his father change from a disillusioned man, old before his time, to the warrior hero he once was.
Marcus Sedgwick’s concise elegant writing creates a truly atmospheric world, with just the right amount of menacing undertones to leave you unnerved throughout this wonderfully tense tale.
These aren’t the romantic vampire’s you may have read before – sorry no Edward Cullen’s in this tale – these vampires are rough and ready, drawn from 17th century folklore, so you can expect blood and gore aplenty (perfect for the young adult target audience).
Yet the shear fact that it is obvious Sedgwick has taken the time to work on the story and craft it to the best of his ability, working in themes of love, loss, courage and more, means adults and more mature teens, will find much to enjoy.
A fantastic spine-chilling page turner, and I look forward to reading more of Sedgwick’s work.