Welcome to Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series. Located in the teen section of the bookstore, it's probably best left for them to read. Still, if you're interested in a bit of teen horror, it's not a bad series to check out.
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This is the fourth book out of twelve, so you'd best start here or you'll get rather confused. It's been 8 years (if I remember right) since Darren was made a half-vampire in the first book, but he only ages at 1/5 the rate of humans. His mind is 8 years older; his body not so much.
Every 12 years the Vampire Generals and Vampire Princes get together to discuss important matters. Mr. Crepsley needs to present Darren to them, so they head out to Vampire Mountain. It's a long way, and two of the Little People are coming with them. It's a hard journey. No one knows what to expect, whether it's wolves, bears, what the Generals and Princes will do to Mr. Crepsley, or just why there are a few dead vampires along the way...
It's an interesting book; entertaining overall, but a book with virtually no plot. It's essentially a transition book of moving Darren's story along from one point to the next. Virtually the entire book is them traveling to the mountain and the handful of things they see and do along the way. There's the overlying threat of something dangerous, but it never manifests and when they finally reach the mountain, it's all just getting-to-know-you stuff between vampires. Yes, a few important things happen (ok, maybe like, 3) and some strange things crop up, but I'm up to book 7 at this particular point in time and thinking back, there isn't really an explanation for some of those weird things soooo...what was their point?
I did enjoy the wolves and how Darren got to be buddies with them. Most of the time you see wolves as vicious, negative creatures, and initially I thought that's what the author was going to do (and I was going to be quite irritated about it), but thankfully he didn't and instead the wolves acted like, well, wolves. Kudos to you Shan. And there is some exciting goodies to be had and the overall journey wasn't ever all that boring, so luckily the entertainment factor was high enough that I didn't want to put the book down and move on to more rewarding activities. It is a teen book, after all, so that's likely why. It's short as well, so a handful of hours with it will see you through.
So it's all basically character development, introducing new characters, and then the big finale where Mr. Crepsley faces the Vampire Princes and has to atone for his making such a young boy a half-vampire. I really don't mean to ruin this for anyone, but I just have to say that I was extremely disappointed with how that little meeting went down. After being suggested that it would be a big deal throughout the past few books, it was a bit anticlimactic and I thought their final decision was a bit ridiculous (not to mention unfair) and seemed to only serve as a reason to get Darren into perilous situations in the next book, Trials of Death.
Ah well. At least it ensures that the next book will be exciting.
The Cirque Du Freak Series:
#1: A Living Nightmare
#2: The Vampire's Assistant
#3: Tunnels of Blood
#4: Vampire Mountain
#5: Trials of Death
#6: The Vampire Prince
#7: Hunters of the Dusk
#8: Allies of the Night
#9: Killers of the Dawn
#10: The Lake of Souls
#11: Lord of the Shadows
#12: Sons of Destiny
**(Don't read this if you don't want to ruin the end of this book!)**
Ok, so I can't help myself, but this is how the meeting should have went:
Vamp Prince: "Larten Crepsley, what's your explanation for making such a young boy into a half-vampire?"
Mr. Crepsley: "I don't have a good reason. My bad."
Darren: "Sometimes dude, I hate you. By the way your highnesses, I didn't want to be a vampire at all."
Vamp Prince: "Hmm. Well, we can't punish Crepsley. He's got such a good reputation and used to be a general, after all."
Darren: "What? Can't you at least do something? This guy roped me into being a stupid vampire!"
Crepsley: "Darren will make a fine vampire, I promise."
Vamp Prince: "Well, since we can't punish you, I guess we can put your word to the test."
Darren: "Wait, what?"
Vamp Prince: "Darren, we're going to put you through the adult vampire trials, which are really dangerous and really hard."
Darren: "Wtf, I just told you guys that I don't even want to be a vampire!"
Crepsley: "That sounds just."
Vamp Prince: "Then it's settled. Crepsley will go unpunished for his random lack of judgment and Darren will have to prove he can do things that only full vampires ever try to do."
Darren: "I hate all of you so much right now, but fine, I'll do your stupid test."
Vamp Prince: "Settled!"
Other Vamp Outside: "By the way Darren, did you know that the trials have killed full vampires in the past and that if you fail but don't die in a task, we kill you anyway?"
Crepsley: "Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that. My bad."
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