2 May 2013

Throwback Thursday

Cirque du Freak - Darren Shan

This is a series of books by Irish author Darren Shan. My nan bought me the first couple for my birthday and then I bought the rest. Luckily, they were released twice a year so I didn't have to wait to long for my next fix!
To sum up the series, Darren Shan is an ordinary boy, until he goes to a freak show with his best friend. He is turned into a half-vampire against his will, fakes his death and has to live in a travelling freak show. That has spoiled the entire first book, but once you read it, you'll want to know more. He does spend a lot of time travelling with Mr. Crepsley, his mentor, and meets new friends like Harkat (a little person - not a leprechaun, these guys are much more carnivorous), Evra Von (a snakeboy) and Debbie (a normal human girl). The series follows his story of good vs evil. Really simply though, it is a story of self-discovery.
This is a book aimed at young teenagers rather than young adults, but still a good read if you're in the mood for something simply written and adventurous, not entirely scary but full of twists and intriguing characters.

This is the biggest version of the logo I could get (the skull design) thanks to Elisabeth
I will always love these books. They are the reason I studied Creative Writing at University. At one point I was adamant about getting the logo as a tattoo, and about two years ago I actually saw someone with one. I cannot tell you how happy that made me to see it. I still might get it, along with the deathly hallows symbol. Geek.

I digress though.
Read these books, and enjoy the wonderful writing style of Darren Shan. There is a new series featuring his first characters mentor, Larten Crepsley, which I have yet to read (though I own two). He has a couple of other series but I've only read The Demonata, which is also very good and a brilliant second series. His writing is completely adventurous and absorbing, his characters are complex and his plots compelling. There are flaws, and I have put a spoilery peeve in the Read More section.

So bad they didn't make a sequel.

My best friend from home also read these books, she's now using them to teach a small segment for year sevens (ages 11-12) in the secondary school where she works as a teaching assistant. I told her she should watch the film with the class afterwards. It was a joke.
I was always more into Shan than Leane was, and in 2006 I finally managed to go to a book signing of his in Cardiff! I got almost all of my books signed, but someone stole my (first edition, first print) copy of the fifth book so I don't actually have a complete first edition set anymore! I have the first three signed and the last three, I thought having Darren sign 20 books was far too many!

This series led me to my first online community, and I still look back on those days with fond memories! The Darren Shan message board is one of the best memories of my early teenage years. We discussed the story, our theories, and 'General Chitchat'. Leading up to the release of a new book, we would talk about the titles and the cover to see if we could deduce any hints. I can remember just before Sons of Destiny came out everyone was going mad with theories. I kind of miss those days. Goodreads is amazing but limited because you have to add people and I'm so much lazier now.. Anyway, I just had a quick look to see if any of the old names were on the messageboard but I only recognised Izzik and Deonblaster! At least some people are still there!

So, that's been my first #throwbackthursday and I hope you enjoyed it. Definitely have a look at the books, if anything they have amazing covers. I'll leave you with my favourite one. Is it a wolf or is it a boy? Is it a wolfboy? You'll have to read to find out.


Please only read the next section if you want to know some spoilers and my thoughts on the progression of the series.
As I mentioned previously, we were involved with many theory threads on the messageboards, but nothing could have prepared me for the ending of the series.

I was really disappointed with it. I think the author got really carried away with the story and could find no other way to cut the ties to the world cleanly without a good brainwipe.
The series literally ends with the titular character going into the past and changing his future so none of it happens.
I would have preferred the blood and chaos promised in the two books before! It was such a let down ending for such a fantastic series, and a shame for all of those who followed the series religiously like me. 

Other than that, though, I really loved these books! The story was engaging, the characters likeable and it was an entirely original story. The character goes through so much - he is turned into a vampire, proves himself worthy of becoming a Vampire Prince, communicates with spiders, travels through time and meets a cannibal pirate, sees dragons, and outwits Des Tiny. 
I would highly recommend reading them, and I'm going to make my nephew read them when he is old enough for sure.
If you want a different kind of ending though, I wouldn't read the next series (Lord Loss, etc) as the ending is almost exactly the same. The series is good, but the ending is lazy.

I actually feel horribly guilty writing that for two reasons; I am a huge ShanFan and I haven't written a novel yet so I don't know how hard it is to tie a story off.
I can't even blog without waffle.
But I studied writing for three years and it is a valid statement that many of my tutors made throughout the course. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. My opinion.
Thanks for reading, hope I didn't spoil things too much!


1 comment:

  1. Love Darren Shan. I recommend lartens stories, such a good backing to them. I think you'll enjoy immensely :)