Warning: This is the third book in the CIRQUE DU FREAK series, so this review will contain spoilers for the previous books. You don’t have to read the previous books because author Darren Shan gives a short but sufficient recap, but starting at the beginning would be ideal.
Mr. Crepsley is the only full vampire that Darren had ever met until Gavner Purl, Vampire General, shows up at the Cirque du Freak. After Purl meets with Mr. Crepsley, Darren is told that he and his mentor will be taking a little break from the freak show and going to live in a city while Crepsley takes care of some business there. Darren is allowed to bring his friend Evra the snake-boy.
At first the city is fun and Darren even meets a girl who becomes his first girlfriend. But then things start going badly, as they always do. Darren and Evra see a news report which says that corpses have been showing up around town — corpses with the blood totally drained out! Naturally, Darren and Evra suspect Mr. Crepsley and they’re eager to stop his murderous activities. When they start following him on his nightly forays, they discover a new deadly evil.
Readers who enjoyed the first two CIRQUE DU FREAK books are certain to enjoy Tunnels of Blood. It’s another short, fast-moving installment that’s gruesome and terrifying. The scariness is nicely offset by some sweet moments of friendship and joy.
In each of the CIRQUE DU FREAK books so far I’ve had trouble believing in the events at the plot’s climax and resolution. This book’s plot is the most unlikely so far. Darren sets out a plan that is much more likely to be disastrous than to work, and it’s hard to believe he thought it was a good idea. Another problem is Mr. Crepsley’s unnecessary secretiveness which greatly increases the tension but doesn’t really make sense. Still, the author’s fans are likely to be forgiving of these little issues and, if they are, they’ll find Tunnels of Blood to be another exciting high-stress story.
Ralph Lister’s narration is sometimes brilliant and sometimes awful in Tunnels of Blood. I can’t stand his voice for Evra the snake-boy, and his voice for the villain is completely over the top, but Lister’s performance makes the whole thing even scarier. Again, I’d suggest listening to a sample before purchasing.
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.