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Anyone who loves the humorous but hair-raising horror in R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series will devour British author Darren Shan's first novel with equal zeal. Some books are born with a surrounding buzz; this one even has Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling's stamp of approval: "Fast-paced and compelling, full of satisfying macabre touches," she writes. Warner Brothers will be making it into a movie, and the rest of the series is already in the works. Given all that, you'd expect a tour de force! Really, though, Cirque Du Freak is a thrill ride that will keep even the most reluctant readers turning pages, but will never take its place in the literary canon.
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.
A boy sneaks out to an illicit freak show, and his life becomes entangled with a vampire spider-wrangler. "The author mines the exploitative history of early 20th-century sideshows to create an artfully macabre 'Cirque du Freak,' " wrote PW. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Actually will say the movie was much, much better! Had a problem liking any of the main charecters.Published 1 day 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 1 day ago by Brenden F.
this book was one of my absolute favorite books while in middle school! funnest book ever! i remember finishing it in just a handful of days. Read morePublished 1 month ago by alexandra martinez
A fast easy read better than the movie which was so corny I almost couldn't stand it. The book is good enough I want to read the next one.Published 2 months ago by April
One of the best books I've ever read it was full of suspense and drama. I really enjoyed it a lotPublished 3 months ago by Allison Allen
This is a great book. Not only is the overall story good, but the fact that the author writes it as if it truly was this kids' diary makes it that much better. Read morePublished 3 months ago by J. Hammon