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January 14, 2013

Review: A Living Nightmare (#1 Saga of Darren Shan) by Darren Shan

A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human/half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers-- Mr. Crepsley-- is a vampire Stever remains after the show finishes to confront the vampire-- but his motives are surprising In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his forrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires. This is Darren's story.

"'Every act you see tonight is real. Each performer is unique. And none are harmless.'"
The Saga of Darren Shan is one of those series that you hear about from everyone. I've heard so much about it that I decided I needed to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't know what to expect at all from it. I had seen the movie, The Vampire's Assistant with Josh Hutcherson but it was so long ago that I had forgotten most of the main points.

The introduction/prologue of the book sets the mood and that mood is creepy. We start off learning that Darren loves spiders and that plays a very big role in the first book. I am terrified of spiders so hearing him talk about how spiders could lay eggs in your stomach gave me goosebumps and from that moment I knew I would love it.
"This is a true story.
I don't expect you to believe me--- I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't lived it--- but it is. Everything I describe in this book happened, just as I tell it."
The book reads as if Darren Shan is right there telling you the story himself. This really brings you closer to the characters and makes you more in touch with what is happening in the book. I loved this style of writing. During the book, the main characters, Steve and Darren go to the Cirque du Freak and this was probably my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed reading about each act and what they could do. As they're sitting in the audience watching the freak show, the reader feels as if you are there with Steve and Darren. There was a wolfman, Alexander Ribs (the contortionist), the man with two stomachs, snake boy, among others. But the one that captured Darren's attention the most, and the one that leads to everything else in the book is Mr. Crepsley and his poisonous spider, Madam Octa.

Most of the characters are children. I don't know exactly the age but they seem on the fairly young side. Maybe in their early teens and they surely act that way. They did things that left me sitting there wanting to bang my head and at times I actually wished I could manage my way into the book and advise them, but this is to be expected. They are teenage boys and it would have been out of character if they didn't make mistakes.

This is just the kind of quick action story filled with twists that I needed. I will be continuing the series and even though it's a twelve book series, I know it will be easy to get through. I can already tell that this series is going to be filled with unexpected twist and turns and lots of adventure and that's perfect. It's easy to see why this is a lot of people's favorite. So if you want something quick and fun, this is the book for you. Thank you to everyone who suggested it!

Rating: 4/5


  1. I read this book many years ago but reading your review brings it all back. It's such a quick twisted read and I think I may have to revisit this series someday. Great review!

  2. I haven't actually heard much about this series. But, I've seen the book everywhere, and I've also seen the movie. I really enjoyed the movie (I've actually seen it twice), and I was always curious about what else happened in the story. I was just afraid that the books would be rather lame (even though I KNOW books are usually better than the movie). But, you've made the books sound enticing now, so maaaaaaybe I'll be giving this series a go. Finally!

    - Jackie