A kid’s book, huh? Wish these’d been around when I was a kid. I mean, the very first paragraph has a human-sized demon in the shape of a scorpion poke out some hapless victim’s eyes with its stinger and lay millions of flesh-eating maggots in the bloody sockets, which then proceed to eat said victim’s brain. Kid stuff. Yum.
I’m not buying into the argument here that violent material stimulates violent activities in children. For what it’s worth, I think that’s down to parental supervision and the ability of a parent to contextualise said material for the little tykes if it’s a wee bit splattery or nasty. What I am buying into is that almost any kid would love this, which is why Darren Shan is so popular. It’s gruesome, gory fun with a cleverly engrossing overarching plot and a real sense of danger throughout the series. In Shan’s books, people make decisions and have to live with the consequences; often those decisions are bad, and so are the results. As is life.
Shan’s characters are, above all, human. They’re scared, and sometimes that doesn’t mean they do the right thing. Sometimes running away is considered the best option, as well it should when a million demons led by the luverly Lord Loss, a floating red eight-armed monster with a torn-out heart and Medusa-like serpents in the bloody hole, invade your home town and proceed to kill and eat everything in it. And when the chips are down and they do the right, noble heroic thing… it doesn’t always work. Characters you know and love may not make it through.
And that’s damn good. As has been this series, thus far. Happily, bloodthirstily awaiting the next one (Death’s Shadow) — especially if it has the return of the acid-spewing, stomach-melting giant rabbit. I dunno, kids today…