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Now this is a proper novel about vampires - and they don't even make an appearance properly until later in the book. It's also a proper book about Venice, set during the end of the winter carnevale - approaching the start of Lent, when Venice becomes a masked city of revellers.

Marko, a doctor's son, comes to Venice after receiving a strange letter from his father Alessandro, who had travelled there to attend an old friend Simono, a glassmaker, who was seriously ill. When he arrives, he finds his father has disappeared, Simono has gone mad and his daughter Sorrel is at the end of her tether, worried that her father will die and that their house is cursed.

Strange things are happening in and around Venice involving a band of celebrants with a strange tattoo.They will come to a head during the festival when the new Doge takes his seat, and it seems that Simono is somehow involved in these events. It becomes a race against time for Sorrel and Marko, (who as you may expect, begin to fall for each other) to solve the mystery and to find Alessandro.

This Gothic 18thC Venice in winter is wonderfully realised. You can smell the stench, hear the water constantly lapping on the piles, and feel the damp and gathering dread in the fog. It's also all the better for the vampires coming from Eastern Europe folklore, rather than any modern romantic interpretation. This is a sophisticated novel for teens and adults alike steeped in a sense of time and place, and a cracking good adventure.
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VINE VOICEon 18 September 2008
This is the first Marcus Sedgwick book i have read and if all his books are as good as this one i can see me buying and reading everything else he writes.

The book opens with a mysterious letter written by the father of one of the main characters, Marko. This leads him to travel to Venice where he meets Sorrel and together they set out to try and save both their fathers. We meet many other characters in the book who each help or hinder the two main characters.

I must say that i really enjoyed all the descriptions and explanations which Marcus gives through the voices of Marko & Sorrel about Venice and its inhabitants. I also very much enjoyed all the action that goes on throughout the book.

I have to admit here that i actually sat down one morning just to see what this book was like fully intending to put it down and get ready for my day but i remained in my PJs all day just so i didn't have to put the book down!

I would say that this book is definately one for fans of Scott Lynch.
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The Kiss of Death is a vampire story with a difference. It's atmospheric and compelling, and combines an excellent writing style with an original plot.

Main characters Marko and Sorrel are well written, and are realistic and brave. The lengths they go to to find their missing fathers is admirable, and the dangers they face never slow them down. It's family loyalty at its best, and their unwavering love for their fathers is exactly how it should be.

The richly detailed Venice backdrop is unusual and brilliantly described, and I found it very easy to imagine the setting. From the buildings to the boats to the water, nothing is ignored. I especially liked the inclusion of a fairytale, and the extracts at the end of each part added an extra touch to the story. It was great to see a couple of familiar characters return, and for their journeys to be resolved.

The Kiss of Death is well worth a read, either as a standalone novel, or as a companion to My Swordhand is Singing. Marcus Sedgwick is one of the UK's best, and deserves more recognition than he gets!
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on 15 June 2015
The Kiss of Death is one of those standalone sequels that doesn't really need you to HAVE read the first book - which I find annoying sometimes. I enjoyed My Swordhand is Singing, and was very much looking forward to seeing Peter gallivant off and slay some vampire-zombies.

We are introduced to two new protagonists here though - Marko and Sorrel - in the beautiful setting of Venice. I very much liked the topsy-turvy ambiance the book threw at you however. Marcus Sedgwick has always been a fan of gothic, but the romantic setting of Venice is replaced and turned into a time when it housed people of the plague. It has a macabre feel to it.

Peter does make a return though, which was good, but strange to be set when he is much older. He plays the burdened hero in the story, while the two youngsters just want to save their fathers - one who has gone missing, and the other who has mysterious illness.

The Kiss of Death is a vampire novel without the vampires, which I found to be a little disappointing. The biggest thing that let the book down for me - for it is well written, has a nice pace, a decent story - is the actual missing antagonist. The Queen of Shadows rarely makes an appearance, and when she does, well, it is pretty tame. I wanted to see more of her.

The Kiss of Death is unconventional in form, which does follow Sedgwick's trademark two fingers to the YA standard. Very much a Sedgwick fan's novel, in my opinion. It is certainly not his worst book, but then again, it isn't his best either.
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on 11 May 2010
I did seriously like this book, however it doesn't hold a torch to its predecessor, my Swordhand is singing, which i think is one of the best recent Gothic novels. the kiss of death doesn't quite bring all the strands together at the end, for example the final moments of the book where everything has been leading up to is a bit of an anticlimax also you are left slightly dissatisfied with the completion of the story, for example it is never explained what happened to the shadow queens son. all in all, although an highly enjoyable read you will be disappointed at the end, it is a good book, yet it could have been so much better!
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on 6 January 2010
A spooky and scary sequel to My Sword Hand is Singing - not quite as good perhaps but it'll keep you turning the pages, and satisfactorily ties up some loose ends from the previous book.
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on 7 September 2009
I bought the book 'cos I'd read others by the same author (Floodland, The dark flight down, The book of dead days, etc) and expected this one to live up to its name....sadly, it let me down towards the end.
The build up was great, the story had me going and I was reading as much as I possibly could to find out what would happen; but it just ended all of a sudden....I mean, this man has been waiting to kill this evil woman all his life and within 10 lines....she's dead!
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