Cirque du Freak (by Darren Shan)

15 07 2012

The Vampire Blood Trilogy combines the first three volumes in The Saga of Darren Shan. Introduced as supposedly a ‘true story’, in which the names and the places had to be changed for the safety of everyone involved, Cirque du Freak – the first volume of the trilogy –  introduces is to Darren Shan and his best friend Steve ‘Leopard’ Leonard. One day Darren’s friend Alan finds a flyer for a particular kind of circus, the “cirque du freak. Because of certain ‘limitations’ they can only get their hands on 2 tickets for the highly illegal show, and the honor goes to Darren and Steve to see the show that will change their life: twisting twins, wolf man, snakeboys and the mysterious Mr Crepsley with his performing spider Madam Octa… the two boys witness the whole shebang… Only Steve is sure that even more is going on and that Mr Crepsley is a vampire… anyway, in a sudden turn of events we get Darren stealing the spider, Steve being attacked by Madam Octa, and Darren getting a choice that’s really not a choice at all: becoming Mr Crepsley’s Vampire Assistant or not getting the antidote to the spider bite that can save Steve’s life.

The Saga of Darren Shan became a worldwide success right after the publication of the first couple of volumes (in 2009, the movie Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant was made, featuring Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan and John C. Reilly as Mr Crepsley). I get the impression that after the publication of the later Harry Potter books and then subsequently the whole train of ‘vampire stories’ in the wake of Twilight and the likes, Darren Shan has somewhat lost his appeal to middle graders. The audience is definitely younger teens here (mostly boys). As for the lasting (literary) quality of these books…meh, they’re definitely no Harry Potter. The writing especially is average at best (and I’m being very kind here), there is hardly any characterization going on either, and even the horror aspect is fairly meager. But, if Darren Shan gets at least one person interested in reading, I guess that’s an accomplishment in itself. The cat, though, has had enough with just one of the volumes of The Saga of Darren Shan.



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