50 Books in a Year Challenge | 02 February 2013 | Scott Place

In Darren Shan's excellent "Saga of Darren Shan", Larten Crepsley was the master and friend of Darren, who the reader developed a unique love and curiosity for as his past remained mysteriously veiled. Because of this curiosity, when the Saga of Larten Crepsley was announced, I was more than sceptical. This made me shy away from the series in order to keep my favourite character mysterious. That was a huge mistake.

 

Larten Crepsley was born in the early 1800's unto a poverty stricken family. To keep food on the table his parents sent him to work at a silk factory with his adopted brother Vur Horston. Here he was routinely abused and terrorised by the factory's infamous foreman Traz. A terrible turn of events leads to Traz's death and Larten going on the run where he crosses paths with the mysterious Seba Nile, a vampire of legend who takes him under his wing as his assistant. Thus the tale of Larten Crepsley begins, as we see him develop from a scared child to a powerful assistant.

 

To my amazement, Birth of a Killer blew away my expectations and I came to thoroughly enjoy learning about Crepsley's past as we see his development and path leading up to the original. Shan also adds in amusing and enjoyable easter eggs for previous readers who meet familiar faces from the original saga such as Vampire Prince, Paris Skyle. The writing is easy to read and characters are well created, however the time jumps can ruin it for me at times. One of the key themes of Larten is how the characters develop over years of their lives. This means that decades can be skipped between chapters and as the novel is meant to be short, segments such as Larten's training are disapointingly missed out. These sort of plot jumps can make the narrative stutter, however it quickly picks itself up and the tale becomes engrossing and fulfilling as you reach the emotional climax, leaving you bloodthirsty for the next instalment.

 

In conclusion, Birth of a Killer is an excellent first instalment of Darren Shan's re-entry to the vampire world, which is much more than a nostalgia trip for readers of the original saga.

 

4/5 Stars.

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