entertainment.timesonline.co.uk | 04 April 2008 | Lisa Tuttle
THE FIRST Darren O’Shaughnessy novel came out in 1999, subtitled The City: Book One, but there was no sequel: by the following year the writer had become Darren Shan, author and eponymous hero of a best-selling vampire saga for younger readers. Now, “extensively revised,” his debut reappears as Procession of the Dead by D.B. Shan. The new byline is an uneasy compromise: the publisher’s desire to keep the bestselling “brand” in conflict with a recognition that this explicit, brutal fantasy was not written for children. It’s obvious why Shan is so popular with boys. The narrative voice is engagingly cocky, the action races along, and there are some surprises lurking behind the familiar scenario. Young Capac Raimi arrives in an unnamed City determined to become a professional criminal, and is taken up by The Cardinal, the powerful gangster boss who is looking for an heir. Many scenes seem recycled from violent crime movies - the massacre in a warehouse, the severed head in a refrigerator - while others are pure Enid Blyton, such as female cat burglar deciding to break in to the well-guarded heart of The Cardinal’s citadel: “Nobody could get near the place without attracting attention. So she went round the back.” The background, Shan’s City, is an oddly vague setting. It has “Incan connections” and American-style gangsters, but apart from a few Incan names and some mysterious blind priests, it seems blandly British, featuring takeaways, National Insurance numbers and cornflakes for breakfast.
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