myshelf.com | 24 April 2010 | Beverly J Rowe
This book is reminiscent of Richard Laymon's Traveling Vampire Show, but written for a younger audience with a non-evil vampire monster, compelling characters, and a hook at the end of each chapter to keep you reading. Darren Shan and his friend Steve manage to get tickets to the illegal Cirque Du Freak show. The show is exciting and disturbing, promising performances by a wolf man, a snake boy and Madame Octa, a huge, hairy, poisonous spider. Steve recognizes Madam Octa's keeper, Mr. Crepsley, as the vampire Vur Horsten from a picture in an old book. Steve confronts the vampire and unsuccessfully tries to blackmail the vampire into making him into a vampire. Darren has a fascination for spiders, and decides that he must have Madame Octa for his own. The boy's troubles start when Darren steals the spider and through music and ESP, gets her to do his bidding. All is well until the spider bites Steve, sending him into a coma. Darren must make a deal with Vur Horsten for the antidote to save Steve's life...but the vampire only deals in blood. This book has the promise of an exciting series with a teaser at the end for volume 2, THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT. Children's literature is becoming more exciting every year, and Darren Shan is a writer to watch. CIRQUE DU FREAK is his first children's novel and he definitely has the touch.
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