Three of the best novels in terms of excellent writing and making sense are “The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Birth of a Killer” by Darren Shan (Little, Brown, $16.99); “Z” by Michael Thomas Ford (HarperTeen, $16.99); and “Draw the Dark” by Ilsa J. Bick (Carolrhoda LAB, $16.95).
“Birth of a Killer” centers on Larten Crepsley, a poor boy who works in a cloth-dying factory where the cruel manager beats and sometimes kills the youngsters that nobody cares much about. In this prequel to the Irish author’s popular “Cirque Du Freak,” Larten kills the manager and goes on the run, finding shelter in a crypt where he’s befriended by a compassionate vampire. He becomes the creature’s assistant but cannot be “blooded” until he agrees. Things go well in the vamp world for Larten for 20 years., Then, he returns to his village to find his aged father still mourning him. Doubts set in about his eagerness to join the vampire community. What makes this story especially interesting is the author’s ability to give just enough information about life in 19th-century Europe to make it believable.