Fantasy Literature | 27 February 2014 | Kat Hooper

Hunters of the Dusk is the seventh book in Darren Shan’s CIRQUE DU FREAK series. Though Shan always does a nice job of quickly and sufficiently recapping the plot, it’d be best not to start here. Go back and begin with A Living Nightmare. And be warned that this review will contain spoilers for previous books.


It’s been six years since the events of The Vampire Prince. Young Darren Shan is now one of the leaders of the vampires because making him a prince was the only way that the other princes could legally excuse him for failing to pass the trials. Frankly, this part of the plot is disappointing. It’s hard to believe, first, that Darren had to do the trials at all, and second, that the vampire princes can’t manage to change or otherwise get around the ancient rules. And, if making Darren a prince gets him above the law so that he doesn’t have to be executed, why don’t the other princes have the power to make an exception to the law? What’s the point of being a prince if you can’t change or make exceptions to stupid rules? But let’s just pretend we didn’t notice this little problem and move on, shall we?


So, anyway, it’s been six years and Darren has been learning all he can about being a prince of the vampires. Then Mr. Tiny shows up and prophesizes that three vampires must hunt down the prince of the vampaneze. They will have four chances to kill him and if they don’t, the vampires will be wiped out and very bad things will happen to the world. The hunters who must go are Darren, Mr. Crepsley, and another who they’ll meet on the way. Harkat, one of the Little People, may accompany them, and they must first go to visit a witch named Lady Evanna. After that, they must follow their hearts rather than actively pursuing the vampaneze prince. Thus, they go back to the Cirque du Freak where Darren reunites with old friends. He also has an encounter with the vampaneze and learns a little more about Mr. Tiny and Mr. Crepsley.


Readers who’ve read this far in CIRQUE DU FREAK are unlikely to turn back now and this is another fast moving exciting story. However, it is weakened substantially, in my opinion, by the inclusion of the Prophecy, Destiny, and Fate elements. Darren and company are suddenly no longer self-efficacious. Instead, they are being dragged around by Mr. Tiny’s nebulous ideas of what has to be. We don’t even know what Mr. Tiny is or whose side he’s on. This lends plenty of mystery, but doesn’t make us very confident in Darren’s decision-making process. Unfortunately, this trend continues in the next few books at least. Still, this is unlikely to bother the target audience and the story continues to delight in many ways. I sincerely look forward to finding out what happens to Darren Shan.


I continue to read the audio version read by Ralph Lister. As I keep mentioning, he tends to be a little too dramatic with his reading, but I’m used to it now and it doesn’t detract from the story.

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