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BOOK 1 - Cirque Du Freak

"A book that leaves you longing for a second bite. Five stars." FUNDAY TIMES   "a compelling page-turner ... five stars for atmosphere." TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT

Italian cover

"Darren Shan is undoubtedly a literary find for children." THE INDEPENDENT   "a stylish book that deserves to be devoured." THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE


Darren Shan's an ordinary schoolboy, until he and his best friend Steve get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a bizarre freak show featuring such arcane performers as Hans Hands, Gertha Teeth, the Wolf Man and Rhamus Twobellies. In the midst of the ghoulish excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognises that one of the performers -- Mr Crepsley -- is in fact a vampire!

Steve remains after the show finishes, to confront the vampire -- but his motives are anything but ordinary! In the shadows of a crumbling theatre, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea.

Later, in a moment of insane daring, Darren sets out to steal the vampire's magnificent performing tarantula, an act which will have severe, tragic consequences for both Darren and Steve. Their lives will never be the same again ...


I had the idea for “Cirque Du Freak” on May 8th, 1997. I was looking after one of my aunt’s children. She was shopping, the kid was asleep in the back seat of her car, and I was sitting up front with nothing to read, having forgotten to bring a book with me. Out of boredom I looked around the car and found one of the Goosebumps books. I’d never read Goosebumps, since they weren’t on sale when I was growing up. I flicked through the book, reading little bits here and there. My two observations were: (1) It wasn’t a very good book, very formulaic and easy to predict. (2) Regardless of that, I’d have probably liked the book when I was younger, since it was so full of cliffhangers and easy to read.

Then I started thinking that what the world really needed was a book that was as fun and easy to read as Goosebumps, but which had some of the darkness and depth of Stephen King. That led me to think about one of my favourite King books, Salem’s Lot, and how I used to try to scare myself when I was younger by imagining what would happen if a vampire attacked me and turned me into one of them. That set me thinking about writing a story about a boy who meets a vampire and reluctantly becomes his assistant – and a few days later I was writing the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan!!!

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