The Saga of Darren Shan 4-6

The Saga of Darren Shan 4-6

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my review of these novels [here].

The Saga of Darren Shan was written by Darren Shan and ran for twelve novels. It is a horror series aimed at middle grade and young teen readers that focuses on the adventures of half-vampire Darren Shan. The novels have been collected into four trilogies: Vampire Blood (2000 – collecting Cirque du Freak, The Vampire’s Assistant and Tunnels of Blood), Vampire Rites (2001-2002 – collecting Vampire Mountain, Trials of Death and The Vampire Prince), Vampire War (2002-2003 – collecting Hunters of the Dusk, Allies of the Night and Killers of the Dawn) and Vampire Destiny (2003-2004 – collecting The Lake of Souls, Lord of the Shadows and Sons of Destiny). For the purpose of this review, I’ll be looking at the Vampire Rites Trilogy only.

It is time for the Vampire Council and Darren and Mr Crepsley must leave the safety of the Cirque du Freak to embark on a dangerous pilgrimage. Their goal is Vampire Mountain, the remote stronghold of their clan, where they will present Darren before the Vampire Princes and celebrate the Festival of the Undead with the rest of their kind.

On the way there, they discover undeniable evidence that the vampaneze are also heading towards the mountain. Afraid of what their sworn rivals are planning, Mr Crepsley hurries to make the Princes aware and Darren learns of an ancient prophecy which speaks of the vampaneze eventually wiping out the vampires. Many of those gathered at the council are fearful that those days are close at hand.

However, Darren has more pressing concerns. It is unheard of for vampires to blood someone as young as he is and the Vampire Princes are not happy. To save Mr Crepsley’s honour, Darren agrees to undergo five trials to prove his worth as a vampire. It sounds simple enough but the Trials of Death can easily prove fatal for a true vampire. With the disadvantage of his human blood, Darren must work twice as hard, especially when failure carries an automatic death sentence…  More

Slawter / Bec

The Demonata 3 + 4

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my review of these novels [here].

The Demonata is the second horror series released by the ever popular Darren Shan. Its story focuses on the constant battles fought by magically gifted humans as they try to prevent monsters (the evil Demonata) from breaking through into our world. The series ran for ten novels – Lord Loss (2005), Demon Thief (2005), Slawter (2006), Bec (2006), Blood Beast (2007), Demon Apocalypse (2007), Death’s Shadow (2008), Wolf Island (2008), Dark Calling (2009) and Hell’s Heroes (2009) – but for the purpose of this review I’ll be looking at Slawter and Bec only.

The events of Slawter pick up around fourteen months after Lord Loss, as Grubbs and Dervish try to put their brush with the Demonata behind them. Although they both survived, Dervish has since been plagued with horrible nightmares and Grubbs still largely cares for him. When Dervish is approached by a famous director who wants to use his occultist knowledge to make her latest horror movie more realistic, it seems to be the perfect opportunity for the two of them to get away from the mansion to recover.

However, all is not as it seems. Isolated on a specially built set – the town of Slawter – Grubbs soon discovers that the movie is a front for something more sinister. The demons are too realistic to be costumes and members of the cast have begun to disappear. With Dervish unconvinced, it’s up to Grubbs and Bill-E to get to the root of what’s going on and put a stop to it once and for all.

Bec is set 1600 years before the events of Demon Thief and focuses on the title character – an apprentice priestess – as she helps protect her clan from worsening demon attacks. When a young boy with mysterious powers appears at the gates one day, Bec sets off with a band of warriors to discover where he has come from and offer help to any survivors that may be there.

On arriving at the boy’s home, they discover that it has been wiped out by demon attacks. The only survivor – a druid named Drust – advises that the creatures that attacked them were far more intelligent than the ones that Bec’s people have previously faced. Their appearance is due to the fact that a tunnel is being constructed between the human and demon realms and, when it’s complete, the demons will flood Ireland and kill everyone. Drust plans to close the portal and enlists Bec’s group to help him. Success for them is vital because, if they fail, all hope for mankind will be lost. 

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The Saga of Darren Shan 1-3

The Saga of Darren Shan 1-3

I reviewed the first two novels of Darren Shan’s The Demonata a couple of months back but this series was not his first foray into the genre of horror. To this day, he is probably best known for his debut young adult series, The Saga of Darren Shan.

The series spans twelve novels, further divided into four trilogies – Vampire Blood (2000 – collecting Cirque du Freak, The Vampire’s Assistant and Tunnels of Blood), Vampire Rites (2001-2002 – collecting Vampire Mountain, Trials of Death and The Vampire Prince), Vampire War (2002-2003 – collecting Hunters of the Dusk, Allies of the Night and Killers of the Dawn) and Vampire Destiny (2003-2004 – collecting The Lake of Souls, Lord of the Shadows and Sons of Destiny). Since publishing, it has been translated into 30 different languages and is still in print worldwide. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the Vampire Blood Trilogy only.

In Cirque du Freak we are introduced to a school boy called Darren Shan who enjoys nothing more than playing football with his best friend, Steve “Leopard” Leonard. The two boys’ lives change drastically when they receive tickets to a secret freak show. They both find themselves drawn to one performer in particular – the mysterious Larten Crepsley. Steve is fascinated by the man himself, realising immediately that he is a vampire, while Darren only has eyes for Madame Octa, the deadly spider that Mr Crepsley uses in his act.

Desperate to become a vampire himself, Steve begs Mr Crepsley to turn him but the performer refuses as he believes the school boy to have bad blood. Darren, however, is far more successful in his endeavours and manages to steal Madame Octa. At first, he seems to have gotten away with his crime but during a tragic accident Steve is bitten and the spider’s venom leaves him in a critical condition. Knowing that he needs to save his friend, Darren approaches Mr Crepsley for the antidote and is offered a terrible choice. Mr Crepsley will only save Steve if Darren agrees to become his half-vampire apprentice…

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Lord Loss / Demon Thief

The Demonata 1 + 2

Before I begin this review, I think I should get the warning out of the way. This series is violent. Incredibly violent. If you are in any way squeamish or easily frightened, these books are not for you. There are scenes of a disturbing nature throughout every tale and I would not recommend them to anyone who is sensitive to reading explicit descriptions of torture and dismemberment.

The Demonata was the second young adult series written by Irish author Darren Shan and presents a much darker tale than his previous work, The Saga of Darren Shan. The series consists of ten novels, each told in first person by one of three protagonists. In order of publication, these are Lord Loss (2005), Demon Thief (2005), Slawter (2006), Bec (2006), Blood Beast (2007), Demon Apocalypse (2007), Death’s Shadow (2008), Wolf Island (2008), Dark Calling (2009) and Hell’s Heroes (2009). The novels focus on the protagonists’ battle to stop legions of malevolent demons from wiping out all life on earth. For the purpose of this review, we will be looking at the first two novels.

Lord Loss is told by Grubitsch “Grubbs” Grady, a teenager who likes nothing more than playing grotesque pranks on his older sister and hates his family’s obsession with playing chess. Life is pretty normal for Grubbs until he returns home one night to find that his whole family has been butchered by three hideous demons. Grubbs manages to escape with his life by activating his previously dormant magic powers but soon succumbs to shock and suffers a nervous breakdown.

After a lengthy recovery, Grubbs is allowed to live with his Uncle Dervish. Dervish Grady is a strange man but is the only one who believes Grubbs about the demons, seeming to know more about them than he lets on. He claims that so long as Grubbs remains in his care he will be safe from them, but his nephew is not wholly convinced. Half-eaten animals have been found in the woods and one of the local boys has a theory that Dervish might be a werewolf…

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