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Cirque Du Freak #2: The Vampire's Assistant: Book 2 in the Saga of Darren Shan (Cirque Du Freak: Saga of Darren Shan) Hardcover – September 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Series: Cirque Du Freak: Saga of Darren Shan (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st U.S. ed edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316606103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316606103
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

What if you were an unwilling vampire? You needed to drink human blood to stay alive, but you weren't some horror-flick villain; you were you, born human--a nice person, even. Thus is the dilemma of the young narrator-protagonist, Darren Shan, in this tremendously suspenseful, oft-sickening sequel to Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan. In the first book, Darren becomes a vampire's assistant to save the life of his friend Steve. In order to do so, he has to fake his death, get buried alive, and head out--half-human, homeless, and friendless--into the world. The Vampire's Assistant chronicles his new lonely life as a half-vampire, pumped with the cursed blood of his vampire guardian, Mr. Crepsley. Darren has much to learn about his freshly supernatural state. He doesn't grow fangs, for instance, like he thought he might. And he can't change shape or fly. Garlic just gives vampires bad breath... And they eat bagels. Some of the hardest lessons of all come when he joins the traveling freak show Cirque Du Freak, the show that got him and Steve in trouble in the first place. Readers won't be disappointed by this fast-paced, gory, but strangely amiable sequel. In fact, the plot is much better paced than the first and the dialogue far more natural. Deadly pythons, a snake boy, Cormac Limbs (bite off his finger and it grows back!), and an entire cast of dreadfully creepy characters offer excitement beyond expectation. Along the way, we come to really like Darren, who will do absolutely anything for a friend. British author Darren Shan promises more adventures in 2002. (Ages 10 and older) --Karin Snelson

From Publishers Weekly

In The Vampire's Assistant, the second installment of the series begun with Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan, the hero returns to the old-fashioned freak show where, thanks to Mr. Crespley, he became a "half-vampire." Darren once again struggles against the urge to feed upon the human blood his health requires.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Darren Shan's real name is Darren O'Shaughnessy (pronounced O-Shock-Nessy, though it can also be pronounced O-Shawn-Essy_. Although he is Irish, he was born on July 2, 1972, in St. Thomas' Hospital, London -- directly across the river from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, which may explain his fascination with evil bloodsuckers! He lived in South East London, near the Elephant & Castle. He started school at the early age of three (he was such a wild child, no pre-school facility would have him!), in English Martyrs. At the age of six, he moved to Limerick in Ireland, with his parents and younger brother, and has lived there ever since.

Shan went to primary school in Askeaton, where his mother was a teacher, then to secondary school in Copsewood College in Pallaskenry. Later, he went back to London to study Sociology and English at Roehampton University. He then worked for a cable television company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer at the age of 23.

Although Shan always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing in his spare time for fun (before that, he only wrote stories if they were for homework). He bought his first typewriter when he was 14, and never looked back, knocking out loads of short stories and comic scripts, and making false starts on several books, which he never completed. He enjoyed his first taste of literary success at age 15, as a runner-up in a television script-writing competition for RTE in Ireland, with a dark comedy script titled A Day in the Morgue (he was morbid even then!).

Shan was 17 when he finished his first novel. Although it was never published, he relished the writing experience, and found himself focusing more on novels in the coming years, leaving behind the short-story format. For the next several years, sandwiched between university and work, he wrote an average of one book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles. When he started writing full-time, his output shot up to 5 to 6 books per year! But that has dropped back to 2 to 3 recently, due to all the travelling around he's been doing to promote sales of his books.

All of these early books were adult-oriented. Although Shan quite liked the idea of writing a children's book one day, he considered himself an adult writer first and foremost. In fact, Shan's initial breakthrough was with an adult book, in 1999, titled Ayuamarca (since re-released in the UK as Procession Of The Dead, and coming to the USA in 2010).

In January 2000, his first children's book, Cirque du Freak, which he'd written as a fun side-project, was published. The first book in a series titled The Saga of Darren Shan (or Cirque du Freak, as it's known in America), it attracted rave reviews and an ever-growing army of fans hungry to learn more about vampires which were quite unlike any that anyone had ever seen before!

Shan loved writing for children so much, that for the next several years he focused exclusively on his books for younger readers. First, he wrote a total of 12 books about vampires. He quickly followed up his vampiric saga with The Demonata, a series about demons. Running to ten books in total, The Demonata cemented Shan's place in the UK as the Master Of Children's Horror, and saw him score his first UK #1 bestseller. He also wrote a one-off short book, called Koyasan, for Wold Book Day in the UK.

There was a very successful manga adaptation of Shan's vampire series, drawn by the Japanese artist, Takahiro Arai. It was originally serialized in Japan, but collected volumes are now on sale in the USA, UK and other countries.

In addition to writing for children, Shan has now returned to his first love and is once again writing for adults as well. He has had two adult books published in the UK, Procession Of The Dead and Hell's Horizon. They have been released in a number of other countries too, and are due to hit the USA in 2010. A third, City of the Snakes, goes on sale in the UK in March 2010. His first adult books were released under the name of D B Shan, but they are being reprinted under the name of Darren Shan in March 2010, and City of the Snakes will be released under the Darren Shan name.

By the start of 2010, Shan's books were on sale in every continent, in 39 countries, in 31 languages, and have been children's bestsellers in America, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and other countries. The books have topped adult bestseller charts in Hungary, Japan and Taiwan. In total, Shan's books have sold close to 15 million copies worldwide!!!!

The movie rights to Cirque Du Freak were bought by Universal, and the first movie (which combines elements from the first three books in the series) was released on October 23rd, 2009, starring newcomer Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan, along with a wide array of established stars such as Josh Hutcherson, John C Reilly, Salma Hayek, Willem Defoe and Ken Watanabe. The movie was called Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in February 2010.

A big film buff, with a collection of more than four thousand movies at home, Shan also reads lots of comics and books, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art and impressionist and post-impressionist art. He has recently started adding sculptures to his collection, making use of the large, empty field outside his back door. Other interests include long walks, watching football (he's a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan), listening to pop and rock music, theatre, worldwide travel, sampling the delights of both gourmet cuisine and finger-licking junk food, and dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers!!!

Shan spends most of his time in Limerick, Ireland, with his girlfriend Bas. He has no pets, but a neighbourhood dog called Goldie joins him on his walks most days. He also feeds a variety of wild birds, and spots the occasional hare and pheasant strolling through his back yard. In addition to his main home in Ireland, Shan has an apartment in London, to which he escapes for a burst of high-speed living every so often, when he feels the need to get his juices flowing!! Shan rarely writes when in London or on the road, preferring to tie himself to his computer when at home in Limerick, where he can work away solidly without any distractions in the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

(What's this?)
#84 in Books > Teens
#84 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

I cannot wait to read the third book!
Mr. Crepsley and Darren have to go to the cirque du freak so Darren can make friends.
Chico Mysterioso
I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alaria on August 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Darren Shan's existence as a human is over. When he sacrificed himself to save his friend his life was destined to change forever. Now a half-vampire, Darren is forced to abandon his family and friends to travel as an assistant to Mr Crepsley. Already struggling to come to terms with what he has left behind, Darren is now about to face a new dilemma, because animal blood alone is not enough to keep him alive and despite Mr Crepsley's concerns, he refuses to betray the person he used to be by drinking from a human. Returning to the Freak show where his nightmare began, Darren soon strikes up a friendship with Evra, the snake boy and a local kid named Sam. When it seems to Darren that his life is finally taking a turn for the better, tragedy strikes and he is forced to make a choice that will change him forever...
After reading "Cirque du Freak", the first instalment in the saga of Darren Shan, I was hoping that these books weren't just Goosebumps for older readers, and now The Vampire's Assistant has proved to me that they definitely are not. If anything, I enjoyed it even more than the first part of the series. Easy and fun to read, The Vampire's assistant, like its predecessor is one of those books that you read straight through, rush to finish and find out what happens, and then feel sorry when it's over. The main character, Darren is a narrator who is easy to like and identify with as he struggles to come to terms with what he has become. New characters are introduced and are even more vivid and interesting than those revealed in "Cirque du Freak". This was an enjoyable, action-packed book that is difficult to put down and should appeal to adults and kids alike. Having read #3 Tunnels of blood and #4 Vampire Mountain, I can safely say that this series just keeps on getting better and better. I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoyed "Cirque du Freak" - you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lee T. Larsen on September 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The Vampire's Assistant," book 2 in Darren Shan's Saga, starts two months after the first one leaves off. Darren and Mr. Crepsley (spelling?) return to the Cirque Du Freak, and the terror starts!!! I liked it even better than the first. I can not wait till book 3 comes out. And yes, this one also has the dreadful last three words, TO BE CONTINUED. I reccommend this book to anyone who has read "Cirque Du Freak" and enjoyed it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading The Vampire's Assistant, and I found myself more than satisfied. I have to agree with many reviewers here: this book was better than the first.
The book starts were the first book left off. Darren, now half-vampire, travels with Mr. Crespley from place to place. Crespley urges Darren to drink human blood, for no vampire (not even half) can survive without it. Even though Darren doesn't have to kill his victim, he doesn't relent. He will drink animal blood but not human. He wants to keep his humanity.
Mr. Crespley and Darren go back to Cirque Du Freak, so Darren have friends and be with people who understand him more. He befriends Evra, the snake boy in the first book, and two humans, Sam and R.V. Darren grows close to Sam, but their friendship is soon in jeopardy when tragedy strikes and leaves Sam (and others) in danger.
As said, this book was better than the first. We learn more about chracters like Mr. Crespley, Mr. Tall, all the other freak members. This book has more excitment, suspsense, and dept than the first one (but I did enjoy the first one immensely). For fans of the first one, you definitely don't want to miss this installment!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Justin Chi on March 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is the sequel of Cirque Du Freak A Living Nightmare. Darren Shan still has a problem of drinking human blood, and human blood is something that vampire's have to drink once a month, or they will become pale and die after awhile. They cannot just survive off of animal blood. Darren Shan can't play with any of his friends, because he can hurt someone. So he joins Cirque Du Freak. There, he meets many strange humans and creatures such as the wolfman, so dangerous that it has to be locked up in a cage with chains tied to him. There is a boy about the same age as Darren and has a pet snake and is sort of a snake himself. They also meet a boy who lives near by. There is also a nature specialist, someone who cares for animals and the environment. The environmental person hears about Cirque Du Freak and comes to investigate. Then he calls the police. But before he calls, he does a little handiwork himself. He sees the wolfman and starts to clip the heavy chains off the wolfman. Darren sees him and tries to stop him . So Darren sticks the person's hand into the cage and the wolfman bites it right off. He yells, "Where are my hands, what did you do to my hands,where are my hands!!!",then runs off into the woods. The third book is to come out at April and is called, the Tunnels of Blood.
Why I recommend this book is because it is as scary as the first. There are even better cliff-hangers. This book keeps you from doing anything else until you are finished with it. It also makes make-believe characters come to life as you read it. It is also one of the best books that I have ever read in my life. That is why I recommend this book.
My favorite part of the story is when the nature specialist comes to Cirque Du Freak and cuts the chains off the wolfman.
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