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Bewildering Stories

Marcus Sedgewick, The Dark Flight Down

reviewed by Jerry Wright

The Dark Flight Down
Author: Marcus Sedgewick
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Hardcover: September 2005
Length: 240 pages
Price: $6.99
Random House and Wendy Lamb Books, in a fit of what can only be described as unutterably good taste have sent me several new books. One is the sequel to a book I previously reviewed: Marcus Sedgewick The Book of Dead Days. The sequel is called The Dark Flight Down. In this case, the flight is a flight of steps under the Emperor's palace.

I guess this could be called a "slipstream" fantasy, because the fantastical doesn't play a major role in this story, except at the end, when Boy and Willow finally gain access to "The Book", yes that self-same book that was the proximate cause of the death of Boy's "Owner" Valerian.

Now, it is January in the City of the Emperor, and Kepler, Valerian's supposed friend has co-opted Boy to be HIS assistant, and Willow is sent of to work at an orphanage, and at least according to Kepler's lights, have nothing more to do with the young man called "Boy".

Things are better than with Valerian, but still not good. Until one day, running an errand for Kepler to retrieve a lens from Valerian's abandoned house, Boy is captured by Imperial Guards and taken to the Emperor's palace, where he runs afoul of Maxim, the emperor's general factotum, right hand man, vizier, and potential next victim of the Mad Emperor. And to fulfill the Emperor's demand for immortality, Maxim must find "The Book".

Sedgewick's writing is crisp and clean, and the book zipped by extremely fast. There are many descriptive words that may cause a younger reader to go searching for a dictionary, but this is not, to my mind, a bad thing.

The book ends appropriately, with no need for a third book, and Boy finds his destiny. But it will surprise you, for things are not as they seem, and often turn out differently than you expect.

A joy to read.

Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Wright for Bewildering Stories