• Issue 255 - October 2021

    01 October 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the October issue of the Shanville Monthly. This is the first month in quite a while that hasn't seen a new release -- the leaves are falling, and the summer of Shan has drawn to its end. But don't worry -- autumn brings my only public online event of 2021, and Volume 4 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus is only just around the corner! You can find out more about those below, as well as catch up on the most recent Archibald Lox releases if you missed them over the summer. There's a new interview with me... a Darren Shan crossword puzzle made by a fan... new reviews... a chance to buy a signed copy of Volume 1 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, with all proceeds going to Children In Need... oh, and there's a COMPETITION with four VERY rare Archibald Lox books up for grabs!! So waste no more time here -- read on, good reader... read on!!!



    OCTOCON 2021



    On Sunday, October 3rd, at 2pm Irish time, I'm doing my ONLY live public online event of 2021, as part of Octocon 2021. It's a FREE event, open to people everywhere in the world -- just make sure you check the time difference between your zone and Ireland, so that you don't turn up too early or too late!!!


    I'll start with a short reading (one that was chosen by fans on Twitter and Facebook in an online poll), then answer questions from the moderator and the online audience. The event will take place in a private Zoom meeting, which will be streamed out to Twitch -- audience members will be able to submit questions through the convention's Twitch channel during the event, so if there's anything you've been dying for years to ask me, this is your chance!


    If you want to join in, either to ask a question or to just watch the event live, you MUST REGISTER on the Octocon site -- registration is FREE, but you HAVE to register to take part.


    This is the link for the Octocon site: https://2021.octocon.com/


    This is the link for the registration page: https://registration.octocon.com/


    This is the link for the Twitch page: https://www.twitch.tv/octoconirl


    And if you'd like to check out their preview page for my event, CLICK HERE






    The fourth Volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, which features books 7 and 8 of the series, was due to see print just before Halloween, but the release date has been pushed back slightly to November 9th, with Volume 5 scheduled to go on sale on January 18th next year. Sorry for the delay, but at least it's only a minor pause, and it looks like the publishers are going to push on to the end of the series and reprint all twelve of the original books -- my concern, when they began republishing the manga, was that they might stop after two or three volumes if sales weren't strong enough, but it looks like my fears have proved foundless -- touch wood!!!


    I'll write a bit more about the release of Volume 4 next month, but for now, if you'd like to pre-order it, there are some handy direct links on the Yen Press site: CLICK HERE






    After a busy summer, in which I released the three new books of Volume 2, the first six books of my new Archibald Lox series are now on sale worldwide, as eBooks and paperbacks -- you can buy the eBooks through all the major online stores, but the paperbacks are only available through Amazon -- BUT if you want to buy them physically, I would recommend the omnibus editions -- see the post below this one!


    The cheapest way to buy the books is as eBooks -- book 1 is always FREE, so you can try without spending a penny or cent!! Here are the links for that FREE first eBook -- you'll be able to order all the others from that page.


    eBook 1 on AmazonCLICK HERE

    eBook 1 on Google PlayCLICK HERE

    eBook 1 on Apple, Kobo, B&N, etcCLICK HERE


    If you don't want loads of books cluttering up your eReading device, you also have the option to buy Volume 1 as an omnibus edition, called The Missing Princess, which collects the first three books and presents them as one big single story, the way I originally wrote the story arc. It costs the same as buying the books individually. The Volume 2 omnibus will be released in the near future, with the Volume 3 omnibus to follow once the last three books have been published next year. Here are direct links for The Missing Princess.


    The Missing Princess on Amazon: CLICK HERE

    The Missing Princess on Google Play: CLICK HERE

    The Missing Princess on Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc: CLICK HERE






    If you would prefer to buy Archibald Lox in a physical format, I strongly recommend buying the omnibus editions, as the paperbacks are substantially cheaper than buying the smaller books separately -- indeed, the hardbacks sometimes costs less than buying the original paperbacks! You can buy Volume 1: The Missing Princess through a variety of stores worldwide (you won't find it on the shelves of stores like Waterstones or Barnes & Noble, but staff there should be able to order it for you), but you're probably going to get it at its best price through Amazon or Book Depository. More info and direct links below...


    1) If you're looking to buy a hardback edition of The Missing Princess, the best deal can usually be found on Amazon, where it often sells at a very large discount: CLICK HERE. There are also usually good deals on Book DepositoryCLICK HERE to be directed to your country's branch, where you'll be shown the cost in your local currency.


    2) You can get the paperback of The Missing Princess on Amazon or Book Depository -- CLICK HERE to be sent to your local Amazon store, or CLICK HERE to be directed to your local Book Depository branch.


    3) As I've said above, the cheapest way to buy Volume One in a physical edtion is to buy The Missing PrincessBUT if you would prefer to buy it as three individual books, I've produced paperback editions, but only through Amazon stores worldwide. CLICK HERE to buy Book 1... CLICK HERE to buy Book 2... and CLICK HERE to buy Book 3.






    Does this boy look old enough to you to be reading The Demonata?!? No, I didn't think so either! :-) So when his dad contacted me last year to ask if I thought they would be appropriate reads, I gently suggested that he might want to start with Cirque Du Freak, and see how he got on with those.


    Well, the answer is -- he got on with them just fine! His name is Corey - also known as Gory Corey - and he actually ended up asking if he could interview me for a feature on the Kendall Reviews site. Well, I couldn't say no to a young horror connoisseur in the making -- so I said yes!!!


    I really enjoyed my interview with Corey. Most of my interviewers tend to be adults, so it was nice to be fielding questions that were coming from a different, younger slant. I hope you enjoy the interview too, which you can read by CLICKING HERE






    Children In Need is a massive, joyous, annual event in the UK, a telethon that raises huge sums for charities. Some years ago, someone had the so-obvious-why-has-no-one-thought-of-it-before idea of creating a tie-in event for the book world, called Children In Read. The basic premise is as simple as it gets -- lots of authors donate signed books, which are auctioned off to the highest bidder, with all monies raised going to Children In Need.


    This year I've donated a signed and dated copy of the Cirque Du Freak MANGA OMNIBUS, Volume 1, which collects the first two manga-adapted books of the series. The winning bidder can also ask me to scribble in a dedication, if they wish -- and I'll be posting it directly to them, no matter where in the world they live. You have LOTS of time to bid -- the auction doesn't end until mid-November -- but I want to post about it a few times in the run-up to the big day, to give it as much exposure as I can.


    If you want to place a bid for the manga, or are just curious to see what the bid is, CLICK HERE


    And if you'd like to check out the main Children In Read site, where you can find all the other books that are up for auction -- lots of cool stuff in there, some of it ALMOST as cool as MY offering! -- CLICK HERE


    Dig deep, people -- it's for a great cause! Oh, and something else to bear in mind -- since I haven't been touring in recent years, I've signed hardly any copies of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, so the winner will be getting their hands on quite a rare signed Darren Shan item...






    My Grandad on my Mum's side used to love Crossword Puzzles -- I still often think of him fondly, when I spot a thick crossword puzzle book in a shop. And my Dad enjoys a good Word Search puzzle -- I'll sometimes walk into a room to discover him, pen in hand, tongue sticking out the side of his mouth as he concentrates fiercely. So this post is for them, and anyone else out there who shares their love of puzzling! :-)


    These two puzzles were both created by a Tweeter with the user name of Darren.Memes, who took a break from creating rib-tickling Cirque Du Freak memes to knock together these two head-scratching challenges. The answers stem mostly from my Cirque Du Freak/Saga Of Darren Shan series, but a few will require knowledge of the Saga Of Larten Crepsley books too, so if you haven't read those yet, now's the perfect time to track them down and tear through them!! :-)


    You can find the Crossword Puzzle in the photo above. For the Word Search puzzle, CLICK HERE


    May the luck of the vampires be with you!!!







    Cirque Du Freak was infamously turned down by 20 different publishers in the UK when my agent first took it to them in 1997. (Sounds apocryphal, I know, but it's absolutely true, and I still have the rejection letters to prove it!) One of the reasons cited by a number of the editors was that the book was so dark, it was sure to enrage librarians and teachers, who were bound to call for it to be banned. This was still a concern for HarperCollins after they'd bought the book, in the run-up to its release, a concern that seemed justified when major retail chain WHSmith initially refused to stock it, because they too feared a very public backlash. (In the sort of turnaround that really only a writer should have been able to dream up, WHSmith not only started stocking the book fairly soon after banning it, but even shortlisted it for their Children's Book of the Year award!!!)


    But when the book was released, it proved an instant hit with teachers and librarians -- out there on the front lines, they were quick to see the electrifying effect that it was having on readers, exciting even kids who were non-readers. And they saw that although it was far darker than most children's books (at that time, anyway), really it was all about friendship and self-sacrifice and giving up everything that was important to you in order to save the life of a friend. It was stimulating interesting conversations, inviting kids to ask all sorts of probing questions, and to my publishers' surprise -- mine too, I must admit, as I always thought it would be more a playground book -- many teachers began using it as a classroom text, a trend that has continued to this day, and not just in the UK, but in the USA and many other countries around the world. It's even part of the national curriculum in Ireland!!


    The first photo above features the boys and girls of 4MW in Caister Junior School, who studied the book in school. They sent me this photo to say Thanks for the enjoyable read, and it put a VERY big smile on my face.


    The second photo hails from Westcliff High School for Girls, where a tally was made for the most-borrowed books from the school library in July. I was thrilled to see myself holding off Roger Hargreaves at the top, although as the librarian noted, who would anticipated a battle between the Mr Men and the Demonata?!? :-)







    A recent email from an editor called Katie, in the USA, put a big smile on my face -- and might also prove helpful if any of you are wondering what to buy a newborn at any point in the near future... :-)


    "It has been at least 15 years since I last read The Saga of Darren Shan. And yet I still feel compelled to write to you today to thank you for the impact that this brilliant series had on me, all these years later.


    "As an awkward adolescent, one of my greatest joys was retreating into the worlds you created. My aunt, a literary agent in London, sent me the first three books in the Saga before they were available in the United States. I so fondly remember reading through Cirque du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood at the speed of light, and then re-reading, and re-reading, them again--that is, until the next book in the series arrived! Growing up in a rural town, I circulated the books throughout my tiny elementary school, and even created a makeshift library stamp stating "Property of Katie" on the inside cover, lest another, bloodthirsty student stole my precious books!


    "Fast-forward to today: After many years of working in book publishing, I received an invitation to a fellow editor's baby shower, with the instructions to bring a book for the little one rather than a traditional gift. While my friends frantically texted about whether to give Goodnight, Moon, or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, my mind conjured up a mental image I hadn't seen in years -- of a young man on a rooftop, looking upward, as his body and spirit dissolve into the sky. I have never forgotten that moment, the cathartic and meaningful end to my preteen self's favorite book series, though I have not laid eyes on that page in over a decade. Now, I plan on gifting the gift of Darren to the next generation, in the form of the first three books in the Saga. I also plan on including a note on the inside cover that indicates not my property, but, "To a special Little Person, who I hope, one day, finds these books as life-changing as I did."


    "THANK YOU for your work, your art, and your creative mind, and for sharing all three with the world. I hope you know the great impact you have had and continue to have on developing minds, past and present."


    And for those of you who might never have seen those original covers of the UK editions, I've included them above, in all their early noughties gory glory!!






    The latest Shanster to join the hallowed ranks of those featured on a Tattoo Tuesday post on my blog and Facebook page is called MORGAN, who went for this full-blooded recreation of the UK hardback cover for Lord Loss -- arrrrrooooOOOOOOO!!!!


    It's a beautifully brought-to-life tattoo, but I must be honest -- although I think this is a stunning image, I always kind of regretted that my publishers went with it for Lord Loss. It was book 1 in the series, and they hadn't yet settled on a long-term, overall design theme. Many of the elements were in place, and it certainly fits in nicely with the others, but from book 2 they went with a visualisation of characters from each book -- Artery on book 2, Cadaver on book 3, etc. With this one, they told the artist to capture the spirit of the piece (it's often forgotten that the main storyline revolves around the uncovering a werewolf -- I can't help grinning whenever an eager fan asks me if I'm ever going to write about werewolves, because I already did!). The image certainly does that -- and, as I said, I think it's stunning, and it jumped out at customers in book stores around the country, so it definitely did the job it was meant to do -- but the OCD in wishes they'd gone with an actual character from the book, so that it tied in perfectly with the other nine covers.


    You can find all those covers, by the way, on my web site, along with the covers from every other country in the world where my books have been legally published (*I'm looking at YOU with narrowed eyes, Iran!*) in a section which is rather obviously labeled... COVERS!!! :-) CLICK HERE


    And if YOU ever get a tattoo based on one of my books, and would like to be featured in a Tattoo Tuesday post, feel free to share it with me via Facebook, Twittter, or the Contact Page on my website, and I'll see what I can do...






    As I often say, I appreciate EVERY review that comes in for a book of mine -- even if they're negative, I respect the time that the reviewer took to read the book, compose their thoughts, and write up a review -- but there's no denying the fact that I do have a few favourite reviewers. I know, I know -- I shouldn't have favourites! But some reviewers have the same way with words that a good novelist has, and their reviews are always a pleasure to read. I'm delighted to be sharing three such reviews this month -- of some of my new Archibald Lox books -- from Shansters of long-standing, who've reviewed lots of my books in the past, and will hopefully go on to review lots more in the future!!


    First up, I'm pleased to report that althoug author Lily Luchesi is now a USA Today Bestselling Author, she's still a Shanster at heart, and has continued to follow my books. Lily read Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt (book 4 of my new series) a while back, and posted her review on her site. (She also writes reviews under the name of Kelly Smith Reviews, which might be familiar to those of you who've read my Darren Dash novels, as some of her quotes have featured on their covers and Amazon pages.) In her summation she said it "truly proves that Shan is a master storyteller," and who am I to argue with a fellow pro?!? :-)


    For the full review, CLICK HERE






    Still down in the Crypt, there was another review for Book 4, on the Books, Films & Random Lunacy blog. George Bastow, the blogger behind the mask, is erudite and eloquent, and his reviews are always both informative and amusing. This latest review from him neatly sums up the book (without including any major spoilers) and captures its spirit, providing a real taste of what it's like. In one of my favourite passages, having mused that I've successfully channeled John Le Carré, George then notes: "Believe it or not, fantastical undercover work, face-shaped locks and regal ructions are just the tip of the iceberg as Archibald Lox & the Forgotten Crypt contains more layers than a planet-sized onion."


    Heh heh!! What a line!!!! :-) You can find the full review by CLICKING HERE






    Breaking out of the Crypt to review Book 6 in series, Archibald Lox and the Rubicon Dictate, was the Literary Connoisseur. The way that she expressed her appreciation of the book had me purring like a very happy, oversized cat, and tipping an admiring penman's hat in her virtual direction! Just run your eye over these lines... "I maintained throughout my reading experience of the Archibald Lox series that book two in volume one, The Empress of Suanpan (that I've yet to write a review for), was by far, my absolute favorite. That was, until The Rubicon Dictate. A quarter of the book in, and the Empress of Suanpan was riding her unicycle the long way down to second place."


    I mean... "riding her unicycle the long way down to second place..." that's just verbal artistry!! Kudos to the Connoisseur!!! You can read the full review by CLICKING HERE






    We're not done with the reviews yet!! A YouTuber called AtheiSocial posted a short, entertaining video review of Cirque Du Freak a while back, prompted by a 28th birthday treat!! :-) I really like his delivery style -- and he's maybe the hairiest reviewer I've yet to come across -- reminds me a bit of what I looked like back in my early 20s, though his beard is far more finely groomed than mine was!!! :-) You can watch the whole (5 minutes) video by CLICKING HERE






    OK -- NOW we're done with the reviews!!! :-) Several months ago (sorry for being so late with my link!!) a YouTuber called Better With Bob? (with the coolest bandana in YouTubedom!) filmed an impressive video about YA fantasy books in the noughties which had been adapted into films. He covered the likes of Stormbreaker, Eragon and The Chronicles of Narnia, but led things off with his take on the Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant movie.


    It's fair to say that Bob - who was a big fan of the books - wasn't blown away by the movie, and he lays out his reasons why in a clear, fair-handed, humorous fashion over the course of four or so minutes. Now, as I've often repeated over the years, I do honeslty like the movie on its own terms -- if you've never read my books (or can get your brain wiped so that you forget about them) it's a quirky, unusual little oddbod of a movie. It doesn't always work, and the tone is all over the place, but I like that it's not like every other film out there, I like that it tries different things, and I'm not surprised that it's picked up a little cult following, appearing at various times on the likes on Sky, Netflix and Amazon.


    Quite a few fans have told me that the film was their gateway to my books, that they'd never heard of me before they saw it, and enjoyed it enough to make them want to track down my books and get deeper into the story. (Of course, quite a few of THOSE then decided, after having read my books, that the film was a travesty, and they couldn't understand why they liked it in the first place!) So, yeah, although naturally I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation -- and I believe it could have fared far better at the box office if they'd made more of an effort to capture what made the books so special -- I've no axe to grind with it.


    That being said, Bob makes a lot of very valid points in his cutting critique, and I certainly understand why it disappointed him, as well as other existing Shansters at the time. To find out what he had to say about it, along with the other films that he included in the review, click here: CLICK HERE







    When I released the paperbacks of books 1, 2 and 3 of my Archibald Lox series last year, I produced an ultra-limited collector's edition of just 5 copies of each book. Basically, when I was ordering proof copies (also known as ARCs) to check that everything looked OK in the flesh, I ordered 5 copies of each book, which I then numbered and dated. I kept the 1/5 copies for myself (because, hey, why the hell wouldn't I?!?), and give the other twelve away as competiton prizes.


    The competition proved so popular that I decided to do the same thing again with the Volume 2 books, and I'm going to be offering them up as prizes in three competitions over the next three months in the run-up to Christmas, starting this month with Book 4 -- Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt. I have four copies up for grabs, each one signed and numbered either 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, or 5/5. Each is dated 1/7/21 (1st July 2021) and I also scribbled in "release day!!" for extra emphasis. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is answer a simple question and email it to, along with your name and address. After that, keep your fingers crossed and hope YOUR name pops out of the electronic hat when I make the draw!! Oh, and you can enter all three competitions if you wish, so even if you win this time, there's nothing to stop you having a go next month for book 5, and in December for book 6 -- if luck is REALLY on your side, you could end up with a copy of all three books, but I'd say the odds against that are fairly astronomical... unless, y'know, nobobody else enters... :-) :-) :-)


    1) Answer this question: "What is the name of the fourth Archibald Lox book?"


    2) Send your entry to: [email protected]


    3) Put your NAME in the SUBJECT BOX when you send your e-mail. Make sure you INCLUDE YOUR FULL POSTAL ADDRESS in the body of the e-mail, as well as the answer, so that I can easily send your prize to you if you win


    (4) Closing date is 11.59pm UK time, Wednesday, October 13th, 2021.


    (5) This competition is open to fans everywhere in the world, unless you work for one of my publishers or are one of my relations.


    (6) You can only enter the competition ONCE. If you try to enter more than once, ALL of your entries will be disqualified.


    (7) Only one entry per household -- if you send in more than one entry, ALL of your entries will be rejected. If more than one person in a house wants to enter, you'll need to make a joint entry.


    (8) The draw for the winners will be made on or after Thursday, October 14th, 2021. It will be a completely random draw, made by Darren Shan personally (I use an online number generator to pick the winners). I will try to notify the winners by e-mail, and will post their names in the Shanville Monthly, and on Facebook and my blog too.


    (9) Information submitted by entrants WILL NOT be shared by me with any other individual or company.


    (10) My decision will be final.



    IT'S A WRAP!



    And that's it for October. Throughout any given calendar month, I try to feature a healthy selection of works shared with me by fans -- artwork, memes, photos, etc. The meme above was one of the funniest things I posted last month -- I still chuckle every time I read it! I'm always keen for fans to contribute, so if there's anything YOU would like to send my way, feel free to share it with me via FacebookTwittter, or the Contact Page on my website, and I'll do my best to schedule it in, though sometimes there can be quite a long wait. I'll see you all back here at the start of November, for the second of my three Archibald Lox contests. Until then, all my bloody best, Darren Shan. x x x



    Follow Darren Shan on Facebook and Twitter. He also has a (very rarely updated!) YouTube page.





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