Killers of the Dawn, the ninth of Darren Shan’s CIRQUE DU FREAK books, continues right where Allies of the Night left off. The vampaneze have taken Debbie hostage in the tunnels under the city, but they’ve let Darren, Mr. Crepsley, and Vancha go. After escaping, Darren and company decide (not too smartly) to go back to the apartment they’ve been staying in where they have a run-in with the police. The rest of the plot involves captures, escapes, rescues, hiding, poor decisions, battles, death, and a couple of big surprises. At the end of Killers of the Dawn, life has changed for Darren and there’s a huge twist. Many readers will have seen this coming, but it’s still a major turning point in the story.
These CIRQUE DU FREAK books are very short (around 4 to 5 hours on audio). The twelve books could have easily been combined into half as many. Audio readers, especially, will notice this because the series is rather pricey for it length. However, Darren continues to be a likeable hero and his story continues to compel with each installment advancing the plot. I doubt many readers will be willing to give it up at this point.
As an adult, I find CIRQUE DU FREAK a bit predictable and I’ve mentioned occasional problems with the believability of the plot and, in the last couple of books, a tendency for Darren to be driven by prophecies rather than his own logic and skill. Yet, the exciting story speeds along. This is a series that should keep reluctant readers eager to keep picking up the next book, and that’s a very good thing.
The audiobooks, which are connected to the Kindle ebooks with Amazon’s Whispersync service, would also be nice for brave reluctant readers. My 11 year old daughter uses this function to read along in an ebook while listening to the narrator. According to teachers, this helps children learn proper pronunciation, pace and intonation. The Kindle books cost about $8 and then you can purchase the audio for an additional $3. Like I said, it’s a little pricey for such short books, but many parents will happily pay if it keeps their kids reading!
Cirque Du Freak (The Darren Shan Saga) — (1999-2004) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Darren Shan is just an ordinary schoolboy who enjoys hanging out with his three best friends. Then one day they stumble across as invitation to visit the Cirque du Freak, a mysterious freak show. Only two tickets are available, so they draw straws to see who will go. As if by destiny, Darren wins one, and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires. This is Darren’s story.
The Saga of Larten Crepsley — (2010-2012) Young adult. Publisher: The highly anticipated prequel to the New York Times bestselling Cirque Du Freak series! Before Cirque Du Freak… Before the war with the vampaneze… Before he was a vampire. Larten Crepsley was a boy. As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children. In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn’t survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire’s assistant, Larten takes it. This is his story.