Humourous. Hair-raising. Haunting. It’s Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak!

Time and time again, I have been told to read the Cirque du Freak series.  For some reason, I don’t usually like reading series books. I like one strong story to be told in one book—not spread over a couple of books. However, after reading the first book in the Cirque du Freak series, I know that I will be continuing on to find out what happens to Darren Shan.  I should have known– I mean, J.K Rowling herself endorses the book right on the cover, ‘A compelling book… a plot full of twists which leaves the reader hungry for more’.  So true!

Want an interesting fact? Darren Shan is a pen name. The author’s real name is Darren O’Shaughnessy, but he uses his main character’s name as his pen name.  Sometimes the book is referred to as ‘The Saga of Darren Shan’ by Darren Shan, with the main character’s name also being Darren Shan. Confused yet?

Basically the story follows fourteen year old Darren Shan and his friend Steve as they attend a showing of the Cirque du Freak.  They witness a snake-boy, a wolf-man, and much more! However, it’s the performing spider named Madam Octa that really captivates and causes future problems for Darren.

The book reminded me of R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series that I used to read as a kid. I can’t stand reading or watching anything scary, so I’m not sure why I loved that series so much. Perhaps it’s because it kept me glued to the page and held my attention. That is why I will be recommending the Cirque du Freak novels for even the most reluctant readers. Far from boring, the entire book is fast paced—something crazy, dangerous, or creepy happening on every page! However, I do recommend that readers should be aged 10 and older, as it is not for the faint of heart.

I only found two minor snags in Shan’s writing. First, in Darren and Steve’s conversations, they often used adult expressions and sounded more like adults than fourteen year olds. Also, I was slightly annoyed by the excessive use of exclamation marks!!! For example, take a look on page 11 and there are three exclamation points in five sentences!!! Since I loved the book so much, I will overlook these slight issues.

Some patrons have told me there is also a film adaptation of the book. They have warned me it isn’t as good as the book. Isn’t this always the case? Despite this notice, I still plan on tracking down a copy so I can compare the book to the movie myself.


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