homepage.eircom.net | 28 April 2010 | ???
Shan's name hit the headlines in the 'young adult' fiction with the early volumes of his twelve-part vampire series, The Saga of Darren Shan. Combining the gritty reality of a good Anthony Horowitz adventure with Shan's own love of the gothic, the series followed his namesake into the underworld of vampires, a worldwide war of the undead, and ultimately through holes in time itself into the strange universe of Des Tiny via death, pain, loss, and a coming of age, and ultimately to the hardest decision of all. Uncompromising and riveting throughout, the series made it into multiple translations. The big questions was: What now? What now is The Demonata, a new series that shifts to a new level of horror, starting with volume one: Lord Loss. Not vampires this time, but werewolves, and a pact with an ancient, cruel demon that has cursed a family for centuries. Grubbs Grady is an obnoxious, cruel rebel who has to grow up fast when the horrible truth about his family and his future is revealed to him after he sees his family torn apart by Lord Loss and his companion demons. Again, Shan is unafraid to bring his readers through the reality of the consequences. Grubbs spends months in a padded cell, sedated, restrained, tortured by nightmares and visions before slowly regaining enough composure to get out and into the care of his uncle. In typical Shan style, Grubbs does this (on his uncle's advice) by pretending to get well, by lying to his doctors and nurses, to the police. Distinctly more overtly violent than the Saga of Darren Shan, there is little that is gentle here. Instead we get tough questions about the purpose of living, blame, fate, loss, ethics, responsibility and honesty. Passage through the Saga series is recommended for acclimatisation purposes. Such comments aside, this is a book that deserves to be read by adults as well as teenagers. Shan stands shoulder to shoulder with Lemony Snicket and Philip Pullman at the leading edge of exciting, challenging "children's" fiction. J.K. Rowling is in the ha'penny place. The ha'penny, note, is no longer legal currency. Book two of The Demonata is titled The Demon Thief. Bring it on, I say!
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