epinions.com | 17 September 2005 | ???
Darren & Harkat Search For The Truth While Trolling “The Lake of Souls” Sep 17 '05 Author's Product Rating Product Rating: 5.0 Pros Reinforces my dislike of Desmond Tiny, a must read for Shan fans. Cons Some might not like the departure from The Cirque Du Freak theme. The Bottom Line It may take you a while to warm up to this book but like the others, the information that’s provided helps to fill in a lot of blanks. Full Review I’d been waiting for “The Lake of Souls” to be released and pestered the people at the bookstore almost non stop about when they would get it in stock. There was a lot of false information floating around the internet about when books in the Cirque Du Freak series were released. I was under the impression that all of them were available however the last three in the series were not available. When the clerk looked up from the computer and saw me walking towards him he smiled and said, “Don’t even ask, we finally got it”. Running back to the teen fiction section I started to break out into a sweat. Not since I read the Anne Rice Chronicles was I so captivated by a series. When I couldn’t find it I went back to the desk and dragged the clerk to the section with me. There it was, on the new release shelf. I wasn’t too happy about having to pay $15.99 for the hard cover version, I like the soft cover ones because they are smaller, weigh less and are cheaper but there was no way I was going to wait another month for it to come in the store in a paperback format. The 10% discount for members did lower the price a little but at that point in time I didn’t care - I finally got the next book in the series. Someone could have set off a bomb and I wouldn’t have taken notice. Cirque Du Freak - The Lake of Souls Darren Shan writes great stories. Most of his stuff is dark and off beat but it isn’t something that is so outlandish that you dismiss it as unbelievable. Sure the idea of a teenage boy being turned into a half vampire and serving as an apprentice might seem far fetched but you have to read the series to really understand and appreciate his story telling abilities. If you thought that Shan, the author, had pulled out some major plot twists in the past, just wait until you learn who Harkat was in his previous life. Moreover, the truth about the ‘alternate world’ that he and Shan had to venture through to reach the Lake of Souls. I will be the first to admit it, this wasn’t the easiest of Shan books to read - especially in the Cirque Du Freak series. It departs from the War of Scars storyline and branches off to a completely separate subject - finding out who Harkat was before Mr. Tiny brought him back to life. If I were Shan I would have published this book after the series was over in a boxed set with a book about Larten Crepsley and his life, some of the adventures of the Cirque Du Freak and the creation of the vampire generals and council. That would have kept the series going a little longer and allowed Shan to fill in a lot of the plot holes without throwing us this kind of a curve ball. That’s not to say that I dislike this book but I can easily see how someone could get turned off with it and not finish the series because it strays so far from the original theme. The one thing that the series continually touches on is friendship; be it between Darren and Steve, Darren and Crepsley or the bond between vampires - it’s something that gets its truest test in this book. Harkat and Darren have been through a lot; from their first meeting at the Cirque Du Freak to his accompanying him to Vampire Mountain for the trials - he was there through thick and thin. This is where Shan, the author, builds the mystery. Harkat is dead, brought back to ‘life’ by Desmond Tiny but he only has a limited amount of time to find out exactly who he was before he died. When his nightmares increase to epic proportions, it’s Shan that makes the choice to take the journey with him to uncover the mystery of his true identity. My. Tiny doesn’t tell either of them much but he does warn Shan that he might not make it back to fight in the War of Scars and save the vampire clan from the vampaneze. The two are transported to some alternate plain via a doorway and it’s Harkat that protests Shan’s involvement until the last minute. He knows that, as a prince, he needs to be on Earth to fight at a moments notice, not tracking down clues and playing Mr. Tiny’s games. Even so, Shan refuses to leave his side. Mr. Tiny gives them clues there and there as to who Harkat was before he died but most of them aren’t obvious until after they reach the Lake of Souls. They battle with a large black panther, meet a grouchy drunken fisherman, brave the elements and push themselves to the limit. I do have to say this, when you find out Harkats true identity, you will fall over but that’s noting compared to how Mr. Tiny explains things - how it is even possible that Harkat was at one time ... well, I am not going to give that away, you’ll just have to read it to find out. The answer has been there for everyone to see from the first time you see Harkat Mulds name in the series. The last section of the book contains a huge teaser for “Lord Loss”, the first book in the Demonata series [in stores now!] and gives you the lead in on some of the characters. I was so thrilled when I saw this that I almost bought it but I hated the thought of dropping another $15.99 for the hard covered version. I toyed with it and decided to wait for it to be released in paperback. Sadly, the teaser for “Lord of The Shadows” [book eleven] is only three pages long - I expected it to have more information it in but here’s the skinny. Darren is headed home - to his true home town where the whole saga started. This should prove to be a very interested scenario given the title of the book as well as the battle between Darren and Steve, the previously revealed Vampaneze Lord. I am really hoping that the next book will get back into the swing of things with the vampire war, princes and Vampire Mountain. The Series I would highly recommend all the books in this series to anyone that is into vampires, dark comic releases and anything supernatural. Shan has a knack for writing about fictional themes but keeping them rooted in reality so when you are reading them you find yourself stopping to think, “What if this did really happen”. You can find these books in the teen fiction section of your local bookstore or library and are a fantastic series for teens and tweens. There is some violence in a few of the books but nothing more than what a child would be exposed to in an R rated movie or what the see on the nightly news. The Bottom Line This book is a real departure from what Shan has written about in previous installments. It focuses mainly on the friendship between the undead little person and the half vampire. Shan, the character, could have easily bailed out several times to rejoin his vampire brothers and sisters to hunt down and kill the Vampaneze Lord but he chose to stick it out and show his colors as a true friend. I can see how some people might find this book less interesting that the others in the series but it serves to fill in some of the gaps of information - if you skip it you will end up missing out on some very interesting things. I would be lying if I said that I was completely happy with the book - I wasn’t disappointed but after waiting so long for it, I really expected it to have a little more body to it. I really miss the adventures that take place at Vampire Mountain and with other vampires in the clan - hopefully the next two books will have more about the core of the series.
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