rebeccasreads.com | 24 April 2010 | Karrie G
Cirque Du Freak is the wacky, chilling tale of vampires, spiders, & friendship. Author Darren Shan narrates this story of ordinary boys' lives until the day one of his friends brings a flyer to school advertising “The Cirque du Freak.” Their interest captivated, Darren & his friends agree to attend this mysterious event.Associate Student Reviewer Karrie G. writes:Steve, Darren's best friend, tells them that the money they have collected is only enough for two tickets. All four of them grudgingly agree that it is only fair for Steve to go, since he was the one to sneak out to buy the tickets. Finally, after some arguing, Steve comes up with a plan. He will throw the ticket & some scraps of paper into the air, whoever catches the actual ticket will go with him.While the other two boys anxiously grab in the air, Darren closes his eyes & holds his hand out. He doesn't know why, but somehow he is sure this is the only way to get the ticket. Sure enough, when he opens his eyes it is in the palm of his outstretched hand.The two friends set out & soon find the old building where the freak show is taking place; it looks as though it might collapse at their feet at any second. Both are rather scared, but determined not to show it as they enter & encounter a very odd, & not just a little bit creepy man. He leads them to their seats, & then Steve & Darren witness amazing & skin-crawling acts.For Darren, one of the most unbelievable acts is Mr. Crepsley & his spider, Madam Octa. Ever since Darren was a kid he's loved spiders & Madam Octa is no exception. Mr. Crepsley controls her with a magical flute & makes her do tricks telepathically.Cirque Du Freak is everything the boys expected & more!But for Steve, who has always been taken by the supernatural, it is more than just a night out. Unintentionally from behind a curtain, Darren overhears Steve trying to persuade a vampire to turn him into a vampire as well. The idea that Steve would want to be a vampire horrifies Darren, but Steve is his friend, so he listens intently to hear if the vampire will do it. When he finally does, Darren is transfixed watching the vampire test by tasting, to see if Steve's blood is pure. Suddenly the monster backs away, shrieking that his blood is “savage,” & that he is evil. Steve becomes angry at these accusations that have ruined everything & he furiously vows to become a vampire hunter when he grows up, & hunt the monster down. When both Steve & the vampire have left, Darren escapes the Cirque Du Freak with an ominous feeling.But Darren is haunted by Madam Octa, he wants to have her for himself. Finally one night he returns to the derelict building & steals her. Just as things seem to be fairly normal again, Madam Octa bites Steve, & the doctors admit they have no idea what sort of poison it is or what has caused it. Darren knows he should tell everyone about Madam Octa, but fears he'll be convicted for nearly letting his friend die, & stealing the spider. Darren goes in search of Mr. Crepsley.Mr. Crepsley assures him that he can save Darren's friend. But the odd little man proposes that he trade a serum that will cure Steve for Darren becoming his assistant. That would mean that Darren would have to become a half-vampire, & leave his entire life behind.What does Darren choose?Darren Shan doesn't write “nice” books -- he makes you think about good & evil & the consequences of what we choose. Scary, interesting & well-written.
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