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This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan
Series: Cirque Du Freak #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on June 1, 2002
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(Last Updated On: November 28, 2021)
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! Steve 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 horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires. This is Darren's story.
I watched the movie for this series a few months ago, so I decided it’s time I give this series a read. The movie is based on the first three books, which is pretty cool.
Darren is just a normal kid at school, though one day he and his buddies find a flyer for a freak show, so of course, they decide to try to go.
His friend Steve goes to get the tickets, though he finds that you’re only allowed to buy two tickets per every flyer, and sadly he only has one flyer. Thus only two of the foursome of friends gets to go. Of course, Darren ends up getting to go along with Steve.
At the freak show, the boys are amazed. Darren is especially amazed by Madame Octa, who is a spider that can be controlled by playing a flute. His friend Steve, however, is mesmerized by the person in which Madame Octa belongs to, as he claims to know who the guy really is.
After the show, instead of going straight home, Steve tells Darren that he needs to go and talk to the guy, so he tells Darren to just meet him at his house. Of course, Darren being the person that he is, he follows Steve and listens to the whole conversation.
Mr. Crepsley, the guy who owned the spider, is actually a vampire, and Steve asks that he become one as well or he will tell everyone that the guy really is a vampire. Mr. Crepsley tests Steve’s blood and finds that he has evil blood, so he can’t become a vampire.
A few days later, Darren decides to go and steal Madame Octa, leaving a letter that says he knows that Mr. Crepsley is a vampire and so he should be able to keep the spider or he will turn Crepsley in.
One day while playing with the spider, Steve gets bitten, which is fatal because of how poisonous the spider is. Mr. Crepsley ends up coming back for the spider, though he strikes a deal with Darren. Darren is to become Mr. Crepsley’s assistant, which means he will have to become a vampire too, in order for his friend to be restored back to full health. Darren agrees to this, and the rest of the book basically explains what happens after that.
This book reminded me of Goosebumps for older kids. It was really intriguing. I loved Darren’s character and the fact that he really didn’t want to become a vampire though he would become one just for his friend to stay alive. It’s really nice of him. He’s selfless.
I also loved Steve’s character, and how he wanted to become a vampire and he would even leave all of his friends behind just to become one because of what it meant to him. Darren and Steve are complete opposites of each other yet they are still best friends.
I read this book really fast since it was pretty short, so I’d definitely recommend picking this one up if you’re looking for a quick, easy read.
Have you read this novel? I’d love to hear your thoughts!