Cirque Du Freak Review
A Journey Into Vampires, Freaks, and Destiny
I was first sucked into the world of Cirque Du Freak in sixth grade. At the time, I could read well above my grade level, but in no way shape or form, did I have a passion for reading. A friend in my class introduced me to the series. After reading the first few pages, I was completely hooked. The problem with reading a book by Darren Shan, especially with the Cirque Du Freak series, is that you get sucked into the world. You forget that you are holding a book in your hand, and you experience everything that the characters are going through. I couldn't put the books down until I finished the series, and even then, I would constantly go back to my middle school library to keep reading them.
The Cirque Du Freak series is about a young child named Darren Shan. He and his friend Steve Leopard go to a freak show called the Cirque Du Freak, where Darren steals a deadly spider named Madam Octa, from a vampire, named Larten Crepsley who performs for the Cirque. Madam Octa ends up biting Steve, injecting him with a deadly venom that will kill him. Darren goes to Mr. Crepsley to beg for the venom. Mr. Crepsley agrees to this on the condition that Darren become a half-vampire. One thing that draws me to this series is Darren's motivation. It is easily clear from the first chapter, that this is no fairy tale with happy endings. The world of Cirque Du Freak, where monsters and evil beings thrive in the darkness. You will not simply win or survive by being good.
Darren starts off an innocent young boy. After meeting Mr. Crepsley and agreeing to become a vampire, he takes his first steps into the night. Darren did not step into the darkness, didn't gain all the incredible powers of a vampire for his own pleasure. He did so to save the life of his friend Steve. He never wished to become a vampire, and so at first resents Mr. Crepsley for blooding him. Darren eventually adjusts to his life as a vampire’s assistant, and we begin to see him grow from a young boy who hated being a vampire, to a man, who is content with his life as a vampire.
Darren is a great character, but perhaps even greater in my opinion, is Larten Crepsley. He is the vampire who bloods Darren, and teaches him the ways of a vampire. Mr. Crepsley is a character who practically oozes coolness. He never speaks in contractions (won’t, can’t) but rather would say: cannot or will not. He can be stuffy and irritable at times, but he is a seasoned vampire, and is deadly in a fight as well! He has been all over the world, and in addition to his combat prowess, is capable of limited telepathy with his spider, Madam Octa, and other close friends of his.
Throughout the series, we see the relationship between Mr. Crepsley evolve from a mentor/mentee relationship to one full of respect, and love. Darren begins to view Mr. Crepsley as a surrogate father. Most people will tell you they enjoyed growing up with the characters in the Harry Potter series, and that sentiment is not lost on me either. However, to me, growing up alongside Darren was a much bigger treat. Reading this series, you will watch Darren grow from a vampire's assistant, unsure of himself, to a man, ready to face the challenges of the night.
If you have never read this series, you should definitely pick it up. It's primarily geard towards younger children, but even to this day as an adult, I still enjoy the adventures of Darren Shan and Larten Crepsley. So go online, or to your local library, and begin your journey into the night. Just don't eat Madam Octa's webs, those are Larten Crepsley's special treat!