A Living Nightmare — "Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan" Series
A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It in the first book in the "Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Darren and his friend Steve — both fascinated by the macabre — sneak out of their houses to attend an "underground" freak show, Cirque Du Freak. Steve recognizes one of the performers, Mr. Crepsley, who charms a spider using telepathy, an act performed by a vampire whom Steve has read about. Steve secretly confronts the man and asks to be his apprentice. Darren, who is obsessed with spiders, uses the conversation he's overheard to steal the spider (Madam Octa) and blackmail Mr. Crepsley, who is a vampire. Mr. Crepsley refuses Steve's request to be his apprentice, but Darren finally reveals to Steve that he's stolen the vampire's spider and has been training her. While she is uncaged, Madam Octa launches herself at Steve and bites him. He is close to death. Darren's only hope to save Steve is to get Mr. Crepsley's help. The vampire will only save Steve if Darren agrees to die and become reborn as the vampire's apprentice.
Darren begs the comatose Steve to recover, and then says (when his friend doesn't regain consciousness) that his "prayers" were not answered. Mr. Crepsley laughs at Darren when the boy tries to destroy him with a cross and holy water. Mr. Crepsley is amused that people believe what they see in movies instead of using real weapons. A priest presides over Darren's funeral.
Other Belief Systems
Both Mr. Crepsley and Darren control Madam Octa using mental telepathy. Darren sometimes "senses" things that lead him down a certain path. He calls it destiny. Mr. Crepsley asserts that vampires are not necessarily evil. They just have a thirst for blood now and then.
The words h--- and crap appear a few times. At the freak show, the wolf-man bites off a woman's hand, and it is sewn back on. That same evening, Madam Octa sinks her fangs into a goat and paralyzes it before killing it. Steve is envious that Darren is a vampire and he isn't.
Steve tells Darren the violent ways he'll kill him when he gets a chance. Darren offers a morbid description of his death, burial and being exhumed by Mr. Crepsley. The next book in this series is previewed after A Living Nightmare ends. In it, Mr. Crepsley and Darren feed on a nice scout leader with a wife and kids.
Darren reads adult comics of which he knows his parents would disapprove.
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Readability Age Range
10 and up
Little, Brown and Company, a division of the Hachette Book Group