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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on June 5, 2004
this is the best book! i love darren shan books and when i done one i always have to wait for like three mounths.i own the whole series and well the last book i got, i treid to savour but it didnt work the book is soo intresting you just go through it like that i mean it sooo good. so wail i wait for the next book in september 2004 i have decied to read the whole series and wail, i read it slower now that ive already read it but it still exciting i mean just the excitment of darrens life is so kool it keeps me up past midnight. so now that im reading the series again by the time i get to september ill be ready to read the next book and ill remember what just happened and ill have somthing to read in between. so if your like me and you have that problem mabye you should do the same. kk:)
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on January 27, 2010
I thought this one was just as good as the first one. It was a quick fast paced read and well written. I liked the descriptions of the "Little People" which reminded me of a real ugly twisted version of munchkins. What was also interesting was the relationship between Mr Crepsley and Darren. Although they dislike each other, they also both realize that they have to work together as well and it's those times when I think their relationship is great to see. Sometimes when I see them fighting, Darren just acts like as spoiled brat I'm surprise Mr Crepsley puts up with him upto now.

Whether Darren has developed, I'm not sure. There are moments when he still acts like a child (which he is) and then there are times when he has moments of maturity I didn't like him very much in this novel because of his behavior it seemed almost quick and changeable in temperment. At times I liked him for his humor and ability to have fun despite his circumstances, and other times he just acted like a spoiled selfish brat who needed a good scolding. You don't really read much about the characters around him, as the book focused a lot more on Darren and his relationships with other characters. I wish I could have read more on Mr Tiny and his little people. They sounded really creepy and I wonder if they return anytime soon in the next novel.

Also missing is Steve. He was such a central figure in the first one, yet not even mentioned in this book. Perhaps he'll be coming soon in the next few books? I hope so! their next meeting would really prove to be interesting. There were many unanswered questions for me but I realize this is a book with less than 200 pages and you can only fit as much information as you. Besides, it makes you want to carry onto the next book in the series. I will definitely be continuing onto reading this one. The ending wasn't much of a cliffhanger as it was in the first book, but it was a good one, to close one part of the story in Darren's life.

Overall a good quick read and a great sequel to Cirque du Freak. I will be reading the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it.
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on November 25, 2009
I liked this book. It was short and simple and sweet. It made me cringe though, as Darren has a fondness for spiders as I love my cats and spiders aren't exactly my favorite insect in the world. There's a nice underlying creepiness throughout the book which I enjoyed as it kept me focused and my attention did not wander off. It was extremely fast paced and the book was far from boring. There were a few revelations and some parts where I thought sounded so predictable, actually surprised me as it didn't go the way I thought it would. Although I rather figured Steve would go the way he would, but if he didn't, the book wouldn't have ended as it has and it wouldn't have been as exciting.

I like Steve though, he's fearless and he's got a reckless streak that you can immediately identify as him being the one bringing all the trouble (not on purpose) but it's him that keeps the plot flowing and making it exciting. Although Darren is the main character, if it weren't for Steve in many aspects of the story, the plot would have stayed flat. I like Darren for his loyalty, although it didn't do much good anyway.

There's a great cliffhanger ending, and now I'm left wanting to read some more. It's certainly a great start to the series and will keep readers interested and engrossed as to what will happen next to these two boys. The only thing I thought was a little odd was sometimes the boys talked like adults so at times it just didn't sound so real, although I'm willing to let it go. The book was good enough that you can just ignore that little error.

Overall, a wonderful start to an interesting series. It gives freak shows a whole new meaning of creepiness and with a cliffhanger ending, you're bound to swallow this series up like candy.
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on June 8, 2004
Fourteen-year-old Darren Shan has always had an infatuation with spiders. He dreams about them, saves them, owns them, etc. So when he attends a showing of the Cirque Du Freak with his best friend Steve "Leopard" Leonard, and is introduced to an amazing spider named Madam Octa, Darren knows that he absolutely must have her, so he comes up with a plan to steal the spider, and blackmail her owner, Mr. Crepsley. What he doesn't realize is just how dangerous the spider is, and that the world Madam Octa is from, is filled with vampires, and things that go bump in the night, and, if he actually goes through with this crime, he'll end up as a major player in the game of the underworld.
Darren Shan has created an amazing new series in CIRQUE DU FREAK, that is sure to capture the attention of vampire fans the world over. His descriptions of the Cirque Du Freak show are so vivid, that you actually feel as if you are right there in the audience with Steve and Darren, watching it live. His hilarious commentary about Darren's crazy obsession with spiders, as well as his descriptions of Steve's wild antics will keep readers laughing out loud until the very last page is read. A must-read for all fans of Lemony Snicket's A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, or the wonderful BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER book/TV series, as readers will find similarities between the two.
Erika Sorocco
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on May 31, 2004
I thought the first book was amazing, after I read this I was SPEECHLESS. JK Rowling probally learned all of her outstanding writing from the half vampire, the talented writer, Darren Shan. Well 5 stars to me isnt enough to give this book. All the readers will die for the next book, Tunnels of Blood, possibly better than the seccond.
In this book Darren learns how it is to be a Vampire's Assistant; He joins the cirque and makes friends. More action with the Wolf Man, Mr. Tall, and many others. Lots of action with Darren regreting of trading his life for a vampire and thretening to kill Mr.Crepsely, not only Darren fights off the creatures is friends do to. Does Mr. Crepsley trust Darren with his life, there are many times that Darren could kill him, but does he want too, does he need Mr. Crepsely to teach him the ways of being a vampire, you will find out in the Vampire's assistant.
Ps. This book is amazing better than Harry Potter and those other books that dont stand one damn chance against, THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT.
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on May 9, 2004
A horror book that'll blow your mind. In the amazingly well written book Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan an ordinary school boy named, Darren Shan visits a strange and mysterious freak show with one of his best friends. His life slowly gets increasingly horrific as terrifying events cause his life to slowly go downhill eventually bringing him to the most nerve wracking choice friendship or the disparity of his own life.
This book brings horror and emotions to a new level. With an exciting storyline and lots of cliffhangers it's a book you can't put down. Many horror books have predictable plot lines and repeated storylines that you see in almost every horror story. Yet this book is different it has a constantly changing storyline, which makes the story unpredictable. Moreover it brings a unique sense of mystery that is vastly different than any other book you'll ever read.
The scenes and settings created by Darren Shan are described with massive details to form an image of what's happening in the book. Its like you're actually in the book experiencing the events. For example when Darren and his friend visited the freak show and the wolf man bit the ladies arm. You could feel the pulsing heart throbbing fear of that moment. The crowds awe, fear, and the confusion of the moment. Moreover the settings are illustrated and depicted so skillfully with words that there is no need for pictures in the novel. For instance when Darren and his friend go to the old theater. The aged look and the creepiness of the theater popped out vividly in my mind.
The characters aren't developed all that proficiently. They seem to be uncompleted and you don't ever seem to learn more about them. For example the author just said the kids names and that they were Darren's friends. You also learn brief details about them but not much more. I guess it isn't all that important but it would have improved the novel if the characters were more developed. For instance if the readers could learn more background info in order to gain a clear picture and a complete understanding of the novel. Even if the characters background info wasn't all that great. The author did do an excellent job of describing their appearance. Like you could picture the long imbedded scar on Mr.Creepsley's face. The long pause and chill you experience when you see the grotesque face of the snake boy. This really helped improve the novel. With the author's combination of descriptive settings and the characters appearance he created a topnotch novel.
The only thing disappointing about this novel is it's the length of the book. It ends to abruptly with a lousy conclusion of to be continued. Of course since it's a series it has to leave a cliffhanger. But since it's a hard to put down book, it shouldn't end that quickly. The author should have developed the book more to prevent the abruptness of its ending.
Overall this book was excellent. A horror thriller that you just can't put down. Its superb descriptions and first-rate storyline make this book the greatest horror book you'll ever read. I give it four stars for all the great qualities in this book but the lousy conclusion almost ruins the whole novel. I definitely recommend reading this book and all the other books in its series to get the complete and full excellency of the storyline.
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on March 24, 2002
This book is the sequel of Cirque Du Freak A Living Nightmare. Darren Shan still has a problem of drinking human blood, and human blood is something that vampire's have to drink once a month, or they will become pale and die after awhile. They cannot just survive off of animal blood. Darren Shan can't play with any of his friends, because he can hurt someone. So he joins Cirque Du Freak. There, he meets many strange humans and creatures such as the wolfman, so dangerous that it has to be locked up in a cage with chains tied to him. There is a boy about the same age as Darren and has a pet snake and is sort of a snake himself. They also meet a boy who lives near by. There is also a nature specialist, someone who cares for animals and the environment. The environmental person hears about Cirque Du Freak and comes to investigate. Then he calls the police. But before he calls, he does a little handiwork himself. He sees the wolfman and starts to clip the heavy chains off the wolfman. Darren sees him and tries to stop him . So Darren sticks the person's hand into the cage and the wolfman bites it right off. He yells, "Where are my hands, what did you do to my hands,where are my hands!!!",then runs off into the woods. The third book is to come out at April and is called, the Tunnels of Blood.
Why I recommend this book is because it is as scary as the first. There are even better cliff-hangers. This book keeps you from doing anything else until you are finished with it. It also makes make-believe characters come to life as you read it. It is also one of the best books that I have ever read in my life. That is why I recommend this book.
My favorite part of the story is when the nature specialist comes to Cirque Du Freak and cuts the chains off the wolfman. Then the wolfman bites the guys hands right off, leaving the bone showing at the elbow, while he yells, "Where are my hands!!!" The wolfman then escapes and runs wild. But Mr. Crepsley, a vampire catches him and put it back in the cage.
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on March 20, 2002
There was once a child named Darren Shan who loved spiders. One day at school, one of his friends had a flyer that mentioned that there was to be a freak show not far from town in an old deserted theater. There were three people so they had to play it fair, because only two could go to the freak show. Darren and his other friend won the ticket and sneaked out at night to see the freak show. There were many bizzare creatures and people. But there was especially one person who Darren and his friend were amazed at. Darren however was interested at the spider that was large and extremely venemous. His friend was interested at the person that was controlling the spider. The man was called Mr. Crepsley. Darren then one night crept out and went back to the theater and stole the spider which was in a cage. He raised it and cared for it. Then he told his friend. The spider bit his friend at the neck. He was paralyzed for many days. It got worse and worse. So Darren got the spider and returned it to Mr Crepsley, the vampire. The vampire had a deal that Darren had to be a vampire assistant to rescue his friend, because Mr. Crepsley had a small potion that would cure the paralyzation. The cure was successful, and Darren was permanently a half-vampire. His adventures continues on the second book. The Vampire's Assistant.
Why I liked this book is because of the cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter. It makes make-believe characters come alive and makes them seem realistic. Once you pick the book up, you can never set it aside until your finished. Darren Shan goes from an ordinary kid, to becoming a half-vampire.The story also runs very smoothly. That is why I like this book.
My favorite part of the story is when Darren Shan and Mr. Crepsley connect their fingertips toghether. Mr. Crepsley, a full vampire, gave some of his blood to Darren. Darren then becomes a half-vampire. Which means that he has half the powers a vampire has. He also has the urges to drink blood, it keeps him strong and helps him survive. Darren becomes stronger and quicker than any child or human. That is my favorite section of the story.
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on December 17, 2001
I believe quite a few people will miss the experience of reading "Cirque de Freak - A Living Nightmare" because of the book's classification as a juvenile book (non-parents). This is truely a book for all ages.
My 8 year old daughter almost missed the opportunity to read this book because of it's size. Her school had not challenged the children to read a novel but had introduced them to chapter books. As a result the children were content to read a chapter and then set the book aside for a additional chapter for the 'morrow.
Because we are now the video generation, time is the essence
for the younger generation unless a story is so intriguing that a reader cannot put the book down. A child will be captivated by the unique twist on the occult and will continue their reading, this is a book that needs to be pried from their fingers. And it will excite them enough to want to share it with all their friends.
We began reading this book together with me reading aloud the first chapter and were going to alternate readers. However by the end of the first chapter my eight year old seized the book and continued reading it aloud. Since "Cirque du Freak" changes the portrayal of the sterotypical vampire it made perfect bedtime reading. The only other time I can recall this being done for chidren was in the "Bunnicular" series for younger children.
When our our hero, Daren sacrifices his own humanity for a friend's life, the reader without even being aware is shown a subtle example of character. One even sympathizes with how torn Daren is with parting with his family and causing them grief.
We ended by completing this book in a mere 3 days and were only frustrated at the end to find that it was the first in a series. To ease this frustration we immediately went out and purchased Book Two "The Vampire's Assistant". With only Christmas to distract, we eagerly await the next installment due out in March.
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on November 29, 2001
(...)

It’s interesting to consider the “Cirque Du Freak”
saga with other books about freak shows and
carnivals and nightmares caught, at such a
terrible price. Such as Richard Laymon’s “The
Traveling Vampire Show.” And. naturally, Ray
Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way
Comes.” Carnival novels always seem to involve
teen agers for some reason.
They deal with childhood, when death is a long
way off, true, but what children were before they
were formed is pretty scary to think about, also.
Pre-death. The “Cirque Du Freak” novels are
about friendship and darkness and heroics and
nobility and the end of childhood with autumn
up ahead. Everything’s long shadows in
childhood, gallantry abounds. Shan the boy who
became, in the first novel, a vampire to save his
friend’s life and who is promised by that friend
that he will be hunted down some day by him,
the future vampire hunter, because Steve feels
betrayed by Darren, is such a sharp vision of how
life works often.
Jim Nightshade and his friend Charles. Laymon’s
teenagers who battle vampires every bit as nasty
as the one in “Cirque..”. They say, I will risk my
life for my friend because death isn’t stopping
forever, is an adventure, and my friend will
admire me for it. There are freaks to admire.
Who does not feel like a freak at least some of
the time, anyway? Even, in the opening
adventure, a creepy little man mind melding a
tarantula into his mouth and letting it spin
cobwebs in it is something of joy to child hearts
and to remembered child hearts. Also, the
audience member who gets her hand cut off and
finds it grown back so quickly and magically
there in the haunted theater of Shan’s
imagination is quite wonderful, making the eyes
go “wow, cool.” Oh, yuck, too. With more
ahead.
Self sacrifice is apparently the province of
children in illusion. In reality-- small
inconvenience, turn and run. But, in the opening
book, one brave scared boy has to give literally
everything to bring his friend out of his coma,
that he accidentally caused. That is so grim and
poetic and full of good byes to everyone as he
proceeds to “die.” He is put in a coffin and
willingly buried. While still alive. And the
battles to follow. Like Jim and Will in
“Something Wicked...” there is loyalty and love
unbounded, in one heart at least. Like the
teenage heroes in “The Traveling Vampire
Show” with their own test of fire, leading to the
cusp of adulthood looming its head upward, in
childhood, which is often not sunny, these books
speak to the quiver in all of us at that age, and
beyond..
Laymon’s book, which seems to concentrate
more on teen pubescent sexual angst more than
the vampire fights, manages to corner the way it
is for burgeoning lust, and how you have to go
easy, deny it at the same time letting the other
person know you mean it, but you don’t really,
honest, just kidding. The sexual passages are
lighter here than in some of his earlier books, but
there is that terrible tinge of scary, skittery joy of
hopefully some day that every teen and pre teen
of a certain age carry within their hearts. He gets
those relationships so wonderfully dead on
accurate and reminds me of how it felt back
then. This could be considered an annex of the
freak show at the local carnival too. Though
“Cirque Du Freak” is quite different from
Laymon country in many respects, that same
protoplasm inside and out shimmers still.
Everybody loves freaks. And adventures bold
and grand in boyhood when absolutely
EVERYTHING was important. EVERYTHING
was noticed by you, each drop of rain, each dying
flower in fall. Shan has captured with his clean
crisp Fall glass coldness, the galloping texture of
childhood, and the perpetual fear that it will all
crash down and everybody will know it’s your
fault. People die. Even children die. Pets die.
Death is almost always cruel. But-- Vampires,
Snake Boys, Bearded Ladies, a boy who loves
spiders and dreams of one in his mouth, then gets
too close to it really happening--this is no scarier
than real life, it’s better than real life. Because
you know beyond doubt this stuff exists. Before
adulthood takes over and most of us have to go
to books to find such strength. The furthering of
the story expands everything and builds on a very
rich base.
Cougar and Dark’s Pandemonium show with its
cold leaf blown hills of October and brave boys.
The Traveling Vampire Show” with its hold, its
seductive vampire, the ultimate naked sword and
sorcery fantasy come true. Wouldn’t we all have
loved to do that? Before a crowd. Hero time.
The circles that go round and into itself like an
October leaf, curling up, tapping on a midnight
sidewalk that posters of carnivals blow from. Till
one kid happens to pick one up a poster on the
wind, and tells his friend and we’re off on
another October adventure of death and magic
and terror and thrills, not knowing and knowing
full well that November will come soon. As it
always does, when the full moon night carnival
pulls out of town and we’ve only got melancholy
dreams left. Nightmares are, too, dreams valid
and important. Maybe the most important. Just,
all of this, average everyday kids. Imbued with
average everyday miracles.
Shan’s work embodies the childhood prose of
books supposedly written by children, by this
child named Darren Shan.. It’s a tough thing to
do, and he does it quite well indeed. Quick cut.
Visual. Mesmerizing. Tightly wound darkness.
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