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Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan

on August 2, 2012

Did y’all enjoy that break from the world of vampires?

Good, because we’re back this week with…

Spoiler Alert: Nothing. Frickin'. Happens. Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain is the fourth book in the twelve book Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. It starts off the second trilogy of the series, the Vampire Rites trilogy.

The book begins at the Cirque du Freak, six years after the events in Tunnels of Blood. Every twelve years the Vampire Council joins together to talk about vampire… government… things. To be honest, what they actually do is a little unclear. Yes, it is told that its a big reunion for all the vampires to get together and catch up, and we are given the basic way their government is run, along with a whole lot of detail about vampire culture, but otherwise… eh. Not really sure how the whole thing works.

Mr. Crepsley takes Darren with him to the Vampire Council to introduce Darren to the Princes.

There is a scene at the very beginning of the book in which Darren describes how he and Evra, one of the performers of the Cirque du Freak and was once Darren’s best friend, have grown apart since Evra ages at normal speed and Darren is, you know, a vampire. Though the books have touched on the whole “immortality” thing (it’s the reason Darren had to leave his parents and travel with Mr. Crepsley in the first place), it hasn’t been an issue until now. It’s become harder for Evra to treat Darren as an equal, as it would be for anyone when the age difference had been so great. Normally, when immortality is mentioned in vampire literature, the vampire in question is really old at that time. It’s actually pretty cool seeing that same concept when it first comes becomes an issue for a vampire as young as Darren.

Once Crepsley and Darren decide to go on the journey, Mr. Tiny (Or, Mr. Destiny, the author likes to keep reminding us about that little pun) shows up to speak to Crepsley. Basically, Tiny demands that Crepsley and Darren take along two Little People (which are Tiny’s deformed servants) along with them. Crepsley agrees, but only out of fear that Mr. Tiny would do otherwise.

By the way, Mr. Tiny is one creepy dude. Seriously, he travels around with these creepy servants (who are completely silent, eat humans and wear heavy hoods to cover up their heavily deformed features), he straight-up says that he eats babies (he just says it, as if that wasn’t totally weird and awful), and he carries around a watch that’s shaped like a heart. Even though he’s not really doing anything that’s clearly evil now, it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to be the main villain of the series. I swear, every scene that Mr. Tiny has been in so far has reeked with tension. His scenes are just awkward and creepy in every way possible. He’s like a more flamboyant Hannibal Lector.

Darren, Crepsley, and the two Little People, one of which Darren and Evra had nick-named Lefty because he walked with a limp on his left foot, set off to Vampire Mountain.

Along the way, they meet Gavner Purl again (he was Mr. Crepsley’s friend from the last book.) They are also attacked by a crazy bear that has been affected with vampaneze blood.The group is saved by a bunch of wolves that Darren befriends. They also find some vampaneze blood in the cave, which immediately raises some red flags since the vampaneze avoid the mountain inhabited by their mortal enemies.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

I’m imagining a Sharks vs. Jets type deal, but bloodier.

So they get to vampire mountain, and there they meet some vampires, including a lady vampire named Arra Sails, who will forever be my favorite. She is the only lady-vampire, and can not only keep up with the boys, she can beat them. And does. Frequently. Keep in mind that this series has been pretty male heavy up until now, with the only notable females characters being Darren’s mom and sister, a Cirque du Freak performer, and Darren’s girlfriend from the last book. Even though Arra doesn’t play as big a part in the overall story, the fact that she exists makes me happy.

They also meet Seba Nile, who was Mr. Crepsley’s mentor, and Kurda Smalht… why does everyone in the series have an Awesome McCoolname? Frankly, it’s becoming ridiculous.

They also meet Kurda Smalht who’s pretty badass in his own way. The vampires have this very militaristic society in which someone’s worth is determined by how many people they can beat up at once. Kurda is the opposite of this: he craves learning, is a pacifist, and is extremely intelligent. He is also about to be voted in as a Vampire Prince (the supreme ruling body of the vampires) and means to pave a way for a more peaceful future for the vampires.

Pretty much the rest of the novel is meeting people and learning more about the vampire society. Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t interesting… it’s just that the actual story isn’t moving along, even though this takes up most of the novel.

After a while, Mr. Crepsley has to go before the Vampire Princes to state his reason for blooding (change into vampire) Darren. Problem is, he doesn’t have one, and it doesn’t help that he only did it after trying to blood another minor. And the Vampire Princes are not happy about it.

I… didn’t like this one as much.

I mean, it was cool to get to know the vampire society, their rules, and how everything worked. Other than that, nothing really happened.

Let me emphasize that again: Nothing. Happened.

And that’s my problem with this book. It was all build-up, and based on what the build-up was, something huge is going to go down. But it didn’t happen.

Let’s put it this way: it’s like if The Wizard of Oz ended when the Wizard telling Dorothy to go kill the Witch. Or if the Hunger Games ended with Katniss about to go into the games.

Overall, it was just really slow and uninteresting, and I hope the next book, Trials of Death, picks up the pace.

Rating: 6 out of 10.


One response to “Cirque du Freak: Vampire Mountain by Darren Shan

  1. dukebarclay says:

    Well, I’m gonna hold out hope for the next two. Obviously Darren Shan wanted to make a longer book but was stuck with the YA approx. 200 pages

    If you smush this trilogy into a single book, does it become a story with standard dramatic structure?

    I believe!!! Or I’m just really optimistic this morning.

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