Vampires with real teeth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 March, 2009, 12:00am

The Kiss of Death
Marcus Sedgwick
Published by Orion
ISBN 978 1 84255 185 1

The vampires in Marcus Sedgwick's latest thriller are not of the romantic persuasion. They are very much in the mould cast by Bram Stoker in the classic vampire novel Dracula (1897).

The Kiss of Death is a spine-tingler that sets out to thrill and frighten, not a slice of romantic fiction with spooky undertones.

Set in 18th century Venice, Sedgwick begins his story slowly with arrival of a young stranger. Marko comes from an isolated village, and until circumstances change, Venice means nothing to him.

Marko's father, the village doctor, has travelled to Venice to help an old friend - a glassmaker called Simono Bellini. But he seems to have disappeared.

Marko decides to go to Venice to search for his father. He meets up with Sorrel, Bellini's daughter, who denies knowing anything about Marko's father.

Sorrel has her own problems. Her father is slowly losing his mind due to a strange inability to sleep.

Marko has arrived in Venice just in time to help her.

There is everything here that a teenage horror fan could hope to find in a novel about the undead.

The setting is spooky. There are zombie-like figures hiding in the shadows, an ancient vampire hunter, and an enigmatic and beautiful woman who could very well turn out to be far more sinister than she seems.