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Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare: by Darren Shan

on July 5, 2012


Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare: by Darren Shan

A Living Nightmare is the first in a series of 12 books in the Cirque Du Freak series written by the Irish author Darren Shan. In Europe this series is called The Saga of Darren Shan, and a movie adaptation of the series came out in 2009. They’re about vampires.  Bam.


First of all, the story is written in first person perspective through the journals of Darren Shan, our main character who has the same first name as the author (or, more accurately, the authors pen name), implying that what is happening in the story actually happened.  Darren, who I’m pretty sure is about 12-13ish, is in class one day when his friend, Steve Leonard shows him a flyer for an underground freak show that’s playing nearby.  Though their teacher takes away the flyer (because freak shows are, you know, immoral and illegal and such), Steve is able to score a couple of tickets to the show.

So, the two kids sneak out to attend the show. And that’s when things get weird.  Halfway through the show, Steve, who’s totally in to vampire and werewolf legends, recognizes one of the performers, Larten Crepsley, who performs fancy tricks with his pet spider, to be a centuries old vampire.  After the show, Steve does the most rational thing anyone would do when recognizing a potentially dangerous creature of the night: he tries to blackmail Crepsley into turning him into a vampire.

But! It doesn’t go as it planned, as apparently Steve’s blood is evil and Crepsley refuses to make him a vampire.  Darren, seeing all of this, does the second most rational thing anyone would do when recognizing a potentially dangerous creature of the night: steal the vampire’s spider.  So he does, leaving a note saying: 1) he is not Steve Leonard and 2) if he comes to get his spider back, Darren will tell everyone he’s a vampire.  But the spider is more than he bargained for, because when Darren shows Steve his new spider, it bites him and sends him into a coma.  To get his friend back to conscious, Darren has to strike a life-alterating deal with Mr. Crepsley.

It was pretty good.  It had a nice plot, though there were points when the plot moved really fast.  I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was the targeted age the book is for, but overall, it kept me interested.

My favorite thing about this book was the descriptions of the actual freak show.  All of the freaks were very cool and creative, each with their own special talent or mutation.

If there was one moment in the book when I looked up and thought “Really?”, it had to be the freaking black mail letter.  As was said earlier, the story is told in first person perspective by a 12 year old boy, who isn’t the smartest person in the world.  Mr. Crepsley knew that Steve came with a friend the same age as him.  The letter Darren leaves says that he is not Steve, (Literally: The actual quote is: “I am not Steve.”)  I’m guessing it didn’t take Mr. Crepsley a long time to figure out who took his spider.

One thing that I thought was really cool was the portrayal of vampires. Instead of making them the brooding hunks of manly masculinity, the author makes them more of a throwback to the vampires of old. They’re a lot more

Totally not Draculathan Definately not Dracula

Which is a really cool thing. Because, let’s face it, the newer romantic, brooding idea of vampires is getting a little tired. And if anyone reading this is getting tired that trope, this book will be a nice change of pace.

Rating: 7 out of 10


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