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Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare Paperback – June 1, 2002
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Darren Shan, author and narrator, sets the book up as a true story, warning readers: "Real life's nasty. It's cruel.... Evil often wins." Indeed, evil begins to win when Darren and his buddies find a flier for "Cirque Du Freak," a traveling freak show promising performances by the snake-boy, the wolf-man, and Larten Crepsley and his giant spider, Madame Octa. Darren and his friend Steve wouldn't miss it for the world.
So, Saturday night they sneak out to the old theater, tall and dark, with broken windows. "Every act you see tonight is real," croaks Mr. Tall. "Each performer is unique. And none are harmless." That's for sure. (A werewolf bites off the hand of someone in the audience, for instance.) Things grow very serious for the two boys when Steve not only recognizes Mr. Crepsley as a famous vampire, but professes his true desire to join him! To make matters worse, the spider-obsessed Darren goes back to the old theater to steal Madame Octa so he can teach her tricks in his room. (He does, with mixed results.) The plot further coagulates as Darren is faced with some terrible decisions about what to do to save his bloodthirsty friend Steve.
Readers may be too enthralled to notice some clumsy editing (the aforementioned bitten-off hand is later referred to as an arm, Darren stops dead in his tracks when he's already stopped, etc.). They may also not notice that the boys constantly use adult-sounding expressions like "his breath stank to the high heavens," though the book is clearly set in the 21st century. If this book gets under your kids' skin (and it probably will), they're in luck--we haven't heard the last of the Saga of Darren Shan. (Ages 10 and older, not for the faint of heart) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Darren and his friends are ordinary enough kids, who find a flier for the traveling freak show "Cirque Du Freak" -- snake boy, the wolf man, giant spider -- and a vampire. Not a warm and fuzzy exhibit show.
Darren and his friend Steve sneak to the freak show, where the ominous Mr. Tall informs them that every act is real -- which, naturally, they are (will kids read a scary book about a fake freak show? Course not). Steve recognizes Mr. Crepsly as a vampire, and exhibits the truly "freaky" wish to be a vampire as well. (Counseling, kid, counseling!) Making the situation even more unreal is Darren, who has a thing about spiders and wishes to steal the enormous arachnid Madame Octa. Darren must deal with an enormous spider, a sideshow full of frightening freaks, and his own best friend...
Darren is just weird enough to fit into this freaky story, without losing the understanding and sympathy of the readers. Steve was a bit too weird for my personal tastes, wanting to be a vampire and so forth, and so I had difficulty connecting with him--but that may have been intentional.
The writing style is snappy and spooky, in keeping with this genre, without becoming too wordy or gross as many horror books are. Atmosphere is handled well, especially in the Cirque Du Freak, and in scenes with Madame Octa and the vampire Crepsly.
The book occasionally becomes a little creepy for younger kids and a little too dark for the faint-of-heart. Additionally, descriptions occasionally become too thin and the characters sometimes take odd actions--but again, the second thing may be deliberate.
Though not flawless, I'll read the next book with pleasure.
While this first novel for young readers is slightly marred by some careless editing (the folks at Little Brown should know much better!), it reveals great promise for a superb edition to the juvenile horror genre. Author Shan finely delineates several appallingly fascinating characters including the eponymic protagonist, but as ever in this sort of literature, the plot reigns. Intricate as the spider's webs which permeate the text, the reader turns the pages and wishes only to devour more at story's end. There have been comparisons to R. L. Stine's teeny terror tales, but Shan is a better writer and probably full of plots and characters that haven't been recycled for the umteenth hundred time. There are resonances of the vampire fiction of Anne Rice and Chelsea Yarbro with the merest soupcon of J. K. Rowling's wizardly romps as well. Some reviews aim the book at the 9-12 audience, but this old children's librarian would expect it to be a bit too intense for the former, and yet would captivate many an adult admirer of the genre.
Darren was a normal boy. His life was changed by a circus flyer. He and his best friend Steve went to the freak circus. They found out one of the performers was a vampire. That vampire had a performing spider. Darren stole her. Steve was bitten by her. She was a poisonous spider. No one knew how to cure him except one. Darren goes back to the vampire and asks him to cure Steve. But he said that Darren has to pay. Not money, not jewelry, nor gold. Half of his life.
Read this book and face this dilemma. Would you say yes, if your best friend was about to die and you knew the only way to save his/her life which is to throw half of your life away?
I, personally, loved this book. First of all, this edge-of-your-seat book really has a cliffhanger. This wants the reader to read more. Like if Steve got bit, it will stop the chapter. Most chapters have this type of style. Second, I love weird, odd, adventurous books. It just keeps my heart pumping. Third, I think vampires are the coolest creatures because they run fast, sucks blood like a parasite, and have a very acute sense of hearing.
The two quotes are belief and hatred. Darren didn't believe in vampires or any other creatures. He was wrong and later he became one. Also Steve already knew that Mr. Crepsley was a vampire. At the end on the freak show, he asked if he could become one. Mr. Crepsley asked why and Steve told him it was because he had nothing else to lose because he hated everything besides Darren.
My favorite part of the book was when Darren Shan got vampire powers and went to school. Darren went to school and was making everyone look bad in the sports. He always scored in soccer. Steve was suspicious of Darren and he found out he was a vampire when Darren faked his death. This is my favorite part because it is cool just to show-off once in a while.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Awesome book! This whole series is amazing and well underrated. Would recommend for anybody who wants to go on an adventure!Published 5 hours ago by B. Wilson
Great book.Filled With suspense,mystery and there are some funny scene and it is great for kids.My son loved it, hope this review was helpful.Published 3 months ago by Nate
I really like Darren Shan. He is very loyal, sticks to his guns and is brave. It seems awful that he had such a horrible friend, and it had to be hard at his own funeral. Read morePublished 3 months ago by mkittysamom
Some people say that this wasa realy bad book(not a lot of people). dont listen because this is a life changing book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Shannon Shepard
Great book and a great series. I've never been so interested in a book like this one. A good friend of mine lent me this book in a hardcover copy with the original artwork. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Reaper_x666x
Actually will say the movie was much, much better! Had a problem liking any of the main charecters.Published 5 months ago by JoAnne Gantzhorn
Discovered Darren Shan from the Demonata Series, and he never disappoints. Won't list points from the book, as not to spoil it for future readers, but I guarantee you'll fall in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Brenden F.