The 'dead days' are the days between Christmas and New Year, when I started reading this. It's a YA novel, quite dark, and the first volume of a series. The protagonist ('Boy') is servant to a magician who's under a curse. The setting's a dark, Baroque city, rather Italianate and 18th-century but with elements of both fantasy and science -- electricity regarded as a dark art, etc. The writing's terse and choppy and quite well-paced, but I found the setting much more interesting than the events. A tendency to paint characters in black and white, too, though that leads to assumptions (by characters and readers) that are proved incorrect. Not desperate to read second volume.
reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place