If you're tired of reading about the systematic immasculation of vampires and want to read something that'll take you back their truly horrific roots, then this gothic tale is for you! But Tomas is a man with a past—a past that is tracking him with deadly intent. As surely as the snow falls softly in the forest of a hundred thousand silver birch trees, father and son must face a soulless enemy and a terrifying destiny.
Sedgwick makes good use of the rich history of European vampire lore in this well researched, beautiful, and creepy story of a father, a son, and a village plagued by the undead.
Peter and Tomas have been on the move for as long as Peter can recall. Something else that is as old as his memory is the wooden box that his father keeps secreted away beneath his matress. Peter has always been curious, sometimes dangerously so, and the mystery of the contents of the box has become a burden. It's also become a symbol of the chasm that has formed between him and his drunkard father. But this is pushed to the back burner when a series of events leads to his sweetheart being forced to marry a dead man and the dead man subsequently stalking her. Peter is forced to face the cause of the villagers superstition and fight for those he loves, and his very life.
The beginning of this book was a bit confusing for me. I thought it was a prologue, but what it turned out to be was the story behind a local folk song that is woven throughout the book and ultimately plays a very large role. Aside from that, however, this is one of the best vampire books I have ever read. I rank it up there with The Historian and The Den of Shadows. The vampires were much different from either of those, however; they were closer to blood-thirsty zombies than the modern image of a vampire. Sedgwick's creatures pay tribute to the true roots of the myth, not as seductive, misunderstood antiheroes, but as the embodiment of every primal fear of man; death, darkness and damnation. And the creatures, which not once in the entire narrative were called "vampires", were actually scary! They had unearthly speed and fearsome strength. They were brutal, and they truly hated the living. It was that loathing that was the most frightening. Sedgwick portrayed the undead as having a serious grudge against those among the living--you know, an example would make this easier to explain: the villagers were a very superstitious lot, and one example of this was how they treated the dead. To prevent a body from rising, or at least to slow it down, the villagers employed a variety of means, such as burying the body with a net because the undead would have to untie all the knots before they could escape their grave; or filling the coffin with charcoal because they would have to write with it until it was all gone. In one instance, Peter, one of the few literate people in the area, had the misfortune of reading what was written inside one such coffin. The messages scrawled across the coffin lid in a cramped, hurried, and cold hand were so horrific and hateful that he dared not describe it to his companion, a brazen gypsy girl. This weakness of vampires was scary, yet odd. It payed tribute to the myth of the dead rising from their graves due to unfinished business, yet it made his vampires come across as being alsmost comically OCD. But I can let that slide because it led to one creepiest scenes ever involving a vampire, a gypsy girl, a long wait for dawn, and a pocket-full of bird seed. If the unnaturally darty movements of spiders makes your skin crawl, then you'll agree with me on this one.
I give My Swordhand is Singing...
The climax alone is worth three of the five zombies. I swear, you will not see it coming, and I'm not even going to talk about it because I'd hate to give any of it away. My Swordhand is Singing is one of the best books I've read this year and I absolutely insist that you read it.