Grubbs Grady is trapped on an aeroplane with his mortal enemy, Lord Loss, and an army of bloodthirsty demons. His situation looks hopeless – until he is rescued by a mysterious tramp known only as Beranabus. His salvation, however, is to come at a terrible price. The Demonata are massing for an all-out assault against humanity, and Grubbs' magical prowess is required for a series of deadly sabotage missions. He will soon have to make a terrible choice. Will he remain in the human world and live out the remainder of his life in cowardice and guilt? Or will he answer the universe's call and brave a lifetime of peril and nightmares in the world of the Demonata?
Demonata fans, strap yourselves in. Demon Apocalypse, the sixth instalment in Darren Shan's latest children's horror saga, is a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride that will not disappoint. There may be four books still to come, but Demon Apocalypse still reads like the last book in a series. Shan has pulled out all the stops to deliver a novel filled with everything that fans have come to love about his writing. Newcomers will be absorbed by the frenetic pace and blood-and-guts mayhem, while veterans will appreciate Shan's familiar emotional themes, and the drawing together of his surprising and many-stranded plot.
Demon Apocalypse is perhaps Shan's fastest book yet. It seems to jump straight from one riveting action scene to another – and yet, its storyline works remarkably well. The realism is brutal – Shan is not one for rescuing his characters when death seems inevitable! – but the setting and premises are utterly fantastic. Add Shan's punchy, fluid writing into the mix, and you've got a frenetic, high-stakes roller coaster where readers are never quite sure what will happen next.
Parents who flip through the first few pages are likely to be shocked at the blood and gore they find there – but those who read more thoroughly will realise that it is not the physical guts, but the emotional guts that distinguish Demon Apocalypse from its peers. Heroism, Shan insists, has a terrible price, and no hero walks away from battle unscathed. His latest instalment focuses on difficult choices – situations where life seems brutally unfair, and the right thing to do is also the hardest thing. Even as the plot rushes towards its climax, the true focus of the novel becomes more and more introspective; a technique reminiscent of the tragedies of Shakespeare. Forget charming princes or teenage wizards – Shan's tortured protagonists are infinitely more engrossing, and demonstrate a powerful maturity that most children's books steer well clear of.
Demon Apocalypse is a rarity among fiction – a children's horror story that will entice reluctant readers without sacrificing depth and quality. In this, it is matched only by its prequels. Highly recommended.