Kirkus (USA) | 26 April 2010 | An Idiot
Angels and ministers of grace defend us! Shan (Tunnels of Blood, not reviewed, etc.) has extruded a fourth volume in his series about an adolescent vampire (also named Darren Shan) traveling with a supernatural freak show. Six years after his last adventure, Darren's vampire mentor, Mr. Crepsley, decrees that he must be presented to the Council of Vampire Generals at Vampire Mountain, even though Darren is only a "half-vampire" (a concept never really explained). After a tedious and slightly uncomfortable journey, during which Darren and his companions run across a dead vampire, make friends with a pack of wolves, and survive a completely risible bear attack, they arrive at the vampire headquarters. There Darren takes a tour, overhears some alarming rumors, plays vampire games, and subjects the reader to endless narrative dumps of vampire politics and lore. At last he makes a fateful decision that could put his very life in danger-one page before the end. All the hallmarks of Shan's earlier works-slipshod writing, banal characterization, pedestrian pacing, overly telegraphed foreshadowing of the Had-I-But-Known school-are present; but here he commits the cardinal sin of the gross-out horror genre by being boring. Nothing happens in this, except set up for the next. The premise has long lost whatever freshness it once had, and cocky, self-centered Darren is neither interesting nor likable enough to make anyone really care. Utter dreck; even the most devoted fans of the series will feel cheated.
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