greenmanreview.com | 24 April 2010 | Nellie Levine
I have a twelve-year old daughter who is seriously into fantasy novels. She reads everything she can by Jane Yolen, and has recently discovered Garth Nix and Nancy Farmer. Given her interest in strange characters and stranger worlds, I thought maybe she'd like the Cirque Du Freak series. I offered — on several well-spaced-out occasions — to buy her the set. I'm a generous parent, and I like to see her read. And of course, I'd get to read the books when she was done. Alas, her tastes don't (usually) include vampires, no matter how highly recommended the book. I couldn't convince her to read Cirque Du Freak, and I wasn't about to buy the books just for myself. But lucky me, they came up for review, and I was assigned the lot! And, my daughter gobbled them up — in only two days. The books are quick reading, which might be one of the worst things I can really say about them. They are written for a younger audience than my daughter — although they are recommended for ages nine to twelve — but she enjoyed them nonetheless, as did I. In the first book, Cirque Du Freak, the author Darren Shan introduces himself as the main character, a young boy whose age we never do find out. He insists the story he is about to tell us is quite true, and gives us several good arguments for believing him. I doubt even a seven-year-old would, but it's fun to pretend. He and three of his friends discover a freak show traveling through town, and do all they can — really, they are quite persistent and resourceful — to buy tickets and get in. Only two of them get to go, and the experience changes everything for them. For Darren, life itself will truly never be the same. By the end of the book he has stolen a deadly spider named Madame Octa from a vampire — a Mr. Crepsley — nearly killed his best friend Steve Leopard, hugged and kissed his parents because he wanted to, and become the vampire's apprentice and a "half-vampire" himself. He is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, though that's not really his choice — he has made a deal that has forever and completely changed who he is.
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