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Cirque Du Freak Novel Review Essay

Personally I would love to give this book a 22 out of 10 mark. It for boys and girls who love being terrified out of their wits. It has Blood, Guts, Vampires, Killer Spiders, Poison and characters with oomph... This story is about a boy called Darren. Darren loves Spiders. This is where the trouble starts. After getting a present of a spider from his parents, he accidently kills it when it ends up being sucked up the vacuum cleaner. He saw this on TV and it looked hilarious. Except that the TV spider came out alive. Darren was gutted. He now had no pet and his parents had said that he was never getting a pet ever again.

His friend in school showed him a flyer of a Circus that was coming to town in the next few days. This Circus was illegal. There were men and women with unusual and sometimes gross talents. Including something called a Snake Boy. Darren ended up sneaking out to see it, but not sure what to expect.

The Cirque du Freak was what it was called and it was really cool. It had: A Bearded Lady, and a guy playing music on his ribs for example. The most spectacular thing for Darren though was the Spider known as Madam Octa. Poisonous with razor sharp fangs and she was smart. Any sudden movements and she would kill you, her owner said... He was a Vampire. Darren is so impressed with Madame Octa that he steals her. This is when the real trouble starts. His friend ends up being bitten by the spider and the only person who has the antidote is the Vampire Mr Crepsley.

Darren badly wants to save his friend, and he has to find the Vampire. The same one he stole from. But then Mr Crepsley will know that Darren stole from him and will he give him the antidote and if he does what will he want from Darren in return?

You will just have to read the book to find out what happens...

This Cirque du Freak book review was written by Amy Dwane

All reviews for: The Saga of Darren Shan

Cirque du Freak
The Saga of Darren Shan: Book 1

Darren Shan seems like your average boy--he likes playing football with his mates, passing notes in class and loves spiders. Then, one day, his best mate Steve gets tickets...

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  • Plot Outline:

    Darren Shan's an ordinary schoolboy, until he and his best friend Steve get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a bizarre freak show featuring such arcane performers as Hans Hands, Gertha Teeth, the Wolf Man and Rhamus Twobellies. In the midst of the ghoulish excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognises that one of the performers -- Mr Crepsley -- is in fact a vampire!

    Steve remains after the show finishes, to confront the vampire -- but his motives are anything but ordinary! In the shadows of a crumbling theatre, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea.

    Later, in a moment of insane daring, Darren sets out to steal the vampire's magnificent performing tarantula, an act which will have severe, tragic consequences for both Darren and Steve. Their lives will never be the same again ...

    Author Notes:

    It was published in January 2000 -- the perfect way to mark the start of the new millennium! -- but I had the idea for “Cirque Du Freak” on May 8th, 1997. I was looking after one of my aunt’s children. She was shopping, the kid was asleep in the back seat of her car, and I was sitting up front with nothing to read, having forgotten to bring a book with me. Out of boredom I looked around the car and found one of the Goosebumps books. I’d never read Goosebumps, since they weren’t on sale when I was growing up. I flicked through the book, reading little bits here and there. My two observations were: (1) It wasn’t a very good book, very formulaic and easy to predict. (2) Regardless of that, I’d have probably liked the book when I was younger, since it was so full of cliffhangers and easy to read.

    Then I started thinking that what the world really needed was a book that was as fun and easy to read as Goosebumps, but which had some of the darkness and depth of Stephen King. That led me to think about one of my favourite King books, Salem’s Lot, and how I used to try to scare myself when I was younger by imagining what would happen if a vampire attacked me and turned me into one of them. That set me thinking about writing a story about a boy who meets a vampire and reluctantly becomes his assistant – and a few days later I was writing the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan!

    This was the book that changed my life, although I had no idea it would do so at the time. I'd always wanted to try writing a book for younger readers, but had no idea if I'd be any good at it, or if my agent would be interested in it. I enjoyed writing CDF, and my agent enjoyed reading it, but every children's publisher in the UK hated it -- we sent it to 20 different publishers, and every single one of them rejected it! I thought my "career" as a children's author had finished before it even started.

    But then my agent arranged a few meetings with editors, to chat about the book and their reaction to it. One of those, a lady called Domenica DeRosa, read the manuscript again ahead of our meeting, and second time round it stirred something inside her. She suggested making some changes, so I went ahead and wrote another draft, and she signed me on. We still had trouble getting the book out there -- Domenica went off to have twins and never returned, and her replacement wasn't keen on the book at all -- and it sat in limbo for more than two years, but eventually it saw the light of day in January 2000.

    You often hear writers talking about lucky breaks, and we all need them, regardless of how talented we might be. During the two years that CDF sat in limbo, one of my agent's other YA authors went stratospheric -- one or two of you might have heard of the Harry Potter books? I think the success of the HP series maybe made the people at Collins reassess CDF -- I imagine the thought going through their minds was, "Well, if Christopher Little was right about THAT series for children, maybe he's right about THIS series too."

    And, of course, he was. :-)

    Cirque Du Freak wasn't an immediate bestseller. It took the series a long time to really start selling in the UK -- I didn't make the bestseller charts until my follow-up series, The Demonata -- and although it made a more immediate impact in other countries when it was released worldwide, such as the USA, Japan and Taiwan, back in the early noughties I still wasn't sure if I'd be able to continue writing full-time or if I'd need to get another job. So far I've done OK with the writing and haven't needed to look for alternative employment, but hey, I never take anything for granted -- Cirque Du Freak is all the proof I need that you never know what's waiting around the corner.View full covers gallery