concatenation.org | 15 January 2009 | Susanna Witch

Darren Shan is the writer of two popular series for children, The Saga of Darren Shan and The Demonata. This is his first adult work, originally published in 1999 under the title Ayuamarca: Procession of the Dead, but has been extensively revised for this ‘director’s cut’ edition. I really enjoyed this book. I was unsure at first as to why I was reviewing it, as the cover blurb makes it look like an ordinary novel about an apprentice gangster… With hindsight this means the blurb avoided being a spoiler for the novel. The first half reads as you would expect from the blurb, other than for some slight strange-nesses. I found it reminiscent of Iain Banks novels (whose work I love, so this is a great compliment), apparently normal, but rather vivid and weird at times, and then the weird stuff increases and I became totally intrigued. I was hooked and read it in 3 sittings… It would have been only two, but you have to sleep eventually!. Even taken at face value, as the story is initially, it was well enough written that I enjoyed the complexity and depth that only increased as the story unfolded. It is written in the first person, and this style is essential as you need to know the main character’s thoughts, of course, and you are with him in his desires and quest to understand. Despite this, the book is not at all slow and there is plenty of action and excitement, all very well written. The problem with this review is that, although I loved the book, I really cannot say very much without spoiling it for you. It is sufficiently unusual that I am a bit stuck to come up with a genre-label for it: fantasy/horror/thriller, I guess. Though it is not unduly gory or scary, just wonderfully weird like Iain Banks’ non-SF novels. The title might make you think it’s classic zombie-type stuff, but it certainly is not. Hey, life is short, but not so short you can’t spare a few hours for a damn fine read. I seriously recommend this book.

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