crowgrrl.com | 01 February 2005 | Athena Schaffer aka The Crowgrrl
Darren Shan’s Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare was one of the most deliciously macabre books The Crowgrrl has had a chance to sink my fangs into! The first in a collection of vampiric chronicles, this book manages to hook the readers from the very beginning.Written in an autobiographical style, readers are almost convinced they’re really reading a boy’s diary. Mainly targeting the children/young adult market, this is just as fun a thrill ride for adult readers as well.Darren seems like a normal kid, whose main concerns are soccer and school. He does, however, have a passion for spiders. One day, his clique of friends stumble onto a flier for an underground freak show appearing in town. The combination of the show and the passion for spiders is what starts Darren on the long, dark path to vampirism.One of the Cirque du Freak’s performers has a trained spider that Darren makes up his mind he has to have. His friend, Steve, who attends the Cirque with him recognizes the performer, Larten Crepsley, as being a vampire. Steve sneaks back into the decrepid theatre after the show, and wants Crepsley to turn him into a vampire, which Crepsley refuses to do. Darren snuck back inside as well to see what Steve was up to, and decided to use the threat of exposing the vampire as blackmail to steal the spider.Darren was quite pleased with his new pet, which he kept secret from his family. Every private minute he had, he and Madame Octa (the spider) would perform the same tricks Darren had witnessed at the Cirque. However, when he decided to share this secret with Steve, that’s when his whole world was turned upside down. The poisonous arachnid bites Steve, who ends up in a coma, and the only way he can be saved is if Darren agrees to become the vampire’s assistant in return for the antivenin.The author brings tons of vivid imagery to the book. The Cirque du Freak series would make a great series of movies!
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