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INIS - reviewed by Eoin Kelly


This is the fifth instalment in a new series of horror/dark fantasy from prolific Irish author Darren Shan which continues the adventures of Grubitsch 'Grubbs' Grady as he struggles to maintain an ostensibly normal teenage life underpinned by a parallel war against vile demons who threaten the extirpation of humanity. If that were not sufficient, our hero must summon every ounce of courage and resilience in an effort to stay sane, as it increasingly appears he may be the recipient of the ancient familial curse of lycanthropy. Only sheer willpower reinforced with innate magical powers have kept the curse at bay but should he succumb he must choose between annihilating all those he holds dear or sacrificing his own life.

Darren Shan is an incredibly talented author who seems effortlessly attuned to the minutiae of details of teenage interaction. I am hard-pushed to recall any other author, writing in this genre, who can so sympathetically replicate the everyday ups and downs of young friendship. A great many twists and turns are skilfully integrated into an ambitious storyline that covers death, loss, betrayal, and burgeoning romance amidst supernatural terror. One jarring note is that a few individual passages, particularly one or two acts of (albeit fantastic) gore, seem somewhat at variance with the main body of the work, giving a slightly uneven effect and making it difficult to interpret the age of the intended audience. Overall, however, this is a superb horror tale that zips and hums along without pause until the final, devastating cliffhanger. Ideal fare for young teen readers with a taste for the macabre. Age: 12+


© Darren Shan 2005. All rights reserved.