• Issue 256 - November 2021

    01 November 2021



    Hi everyone, and welcome to the November issue of the Shanville Monthly. I have lots to share with you this month, starting with news of the release of two huge omnibus editions of works old and new -- the fourth volume of Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, and the second volume of the Archibald Lox omnibus -- if you buy both of these, your postman is going to be cursing you all the way to Christmas, because he's going to have a sore back from carrying them! :-) In other news, a signed copy of Volume 1 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus is up for grabs in a Children In Need auction... there's a COMPETITION to win one of four VERY rare Archibald Lox books... if you missed my only live online public online event of 2021, you can catch up by watching a recording... if you're a teacher or librarian, I explain how you can pitch for me to do an online event with YOUR students... and I confess to a most heinous publishing mistake!!! Read on to find out more...






    I wasn't planning to release the Archibald Lox Volume 2 omnibus edition until next spring, but quite a few fans grumbled about that over the last several months. They liked the autumn release of Volume 1 last year, they said, because it meant they could get it as a present for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Also, those who've been following the story in that format have waited patiently for a year -- if I didn't release Volume 2 until next spring, that would mean they'd have to wait 18 months in total between releases.


    Now, while I'm often the first to tell people (especially my kids!) that you can't always get what you want... sometimes you CAN!!! Since I'm not publishing these books traditionally, I'm free to set my own rules, and... well... the Shansters have spoken, and the great and powerful Shan has listened!!! :-)


    Long story short -- Archibald Lox Volume 2: The Kidnapped Prince went on sale on Monday, November 1st, as a hardback, paperback and eBook. The hardback and eBook are on sale through a variety of stores, but the paperback is only on sale through Amazon. I've kept prices down as much as possible, but because the hardback and paperback are print-on-demand, the physical editions have to be on the expensive side -- but hopefully Amazon and Books Depository will offer the hardback at a sizeable discount, as they have at various times with Volume 1. On the digital front, the eBook is a LOT cheaper than the physical editions, and it's also cheaper than if you were to buy the separate eBooks of books 4, 5 and 6 -- making this the most economical way to read the story by far! Here are all the direct links I've been able to pull together, offering as wide a choice af buying options as I can:



    Amazon: http://mybook.to/ArchieVol2omnibusEbook

    Apple, Nook, Kobo: https://books2read.com/u/bwaOMy

    Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Darren_Shan_Archibald_Lox_Volume_2?id=Z8hGEAAAQBAJ



    Amazon: http://mybook.to/ArchieVol2hardback

    Book Depositoryhttps://www.bookdepository.com/Archibald-Lox-2-Darren-Shan/9781910009154





    Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09JY7ZJMG

    Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09JY7ZJMG

    Amazon CANADA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09JY7ZJMG

    Amazon AUSTRALIAhttps://www.amazon.com.au/gp/aw/d/B09JY7ZJMG







    The fourth Volume of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus, which features books 7 and 8 of the series, goes on sale this month, on November 9th, with Volume 5 scheduled to go on sale on January 18th next year.


    My author copies were sent to me last month. When they arrived, I had a quick look through a copy, and there's so much in there that's key to the entire second half of the series -- the first appearances of Vancha and Evanna... the return of some old faces from the first three books... not to mention the revelation of how Mr Crepsley picked up his infamous facial scar!!! The memories came flooding back as I was flicking through the pages -- happy, happy times.


    You should be able to find Volume 4 of the manga omnibus in your local manga stockist (if you don't see it on the shelves, ask a member of staff to order in a copy for you), but if you prefer to buy online, here are a few links.


    If you live in the USA, there are some direct links on the Yen Press site: CLICK HERE


    If you live in the UK, this is the link for the book on AMAZON UK, and on WATERSTONES, and on WHSMITH.


    If you prefer to buy the manga as eBooks, the volumes are also being republished digitally, NOT as omnibus editions, but as individual books, with Books 7 and 8 going on sale at the same time as the physical omnibus edition of Volume 4. You can buy them through COMIXOLOGY






    Children In Need is a massive annual event in the UK, a telethon that raises huge sums for charities. Some years ago, someone had the brilliant idea of creating a tie-in event for the book world, called Children In Read. 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 post it directly to them, no matter where in the world they live. You have until 9pm UK time on Friday, November 19th to bid -- the high bid at the start of the month stood at a fairly eye-watering £55, but 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....


    If you want to place a bid for the manga, 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



    OCTOCON 2021



    I had lots of fun at my Octocon event last month -- my only live virtual public event of 2021. It's been a long time since I did an event like this one, and it reminded me how much I've missed that part of my life over the last several years, since easing up on my touring duties following the conclusion of my Zom-B series. Hopefully I'll get back out on the road again one day in the not too distant future -- let's all keep our fingers crossed!!


    I started the event with a reading from the first Cirque Du Freak book, then answered LOADS of questions, many of which came from fans who were watching live. The time flew by -- I was genuinely shocked when the lovely chairperson, Janet, said it was time time wrap things up, as I thought we easily had another 10 or 15 minutes to go!!!


    Although the event went out live, it was also recorded, and you can watch the entire event on the Octocon Twitch channel if you missed it first time round, by clicking here: CLICKING HERE






    As I said above, the Volume 2 Archibald Lox omnibus is on sale NOW. In case you haven't yet read the first three books, you can either donwload them individually as three small books -- book 1 is always FREE, so you can try without spending a penny or cent -- or get them in the Volume 1 omnibus as a single big book. The price works out the same, so it's purely a matter of which format you prefer -- for what it's worth, I recommend the omnibus for the best possible reading experience, as it presents the story the way I originally wrote it. Here are the links for the FREE eBook off Book 1 if you want to buy them individually -- 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


    And here are direct links for the Volume 1 omnibus, 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 Volume 1 of Archibald Lox in a physical format, I strongly recommend buying the omnibus edition, as the paperback is substantially cheaper than buying the smaller books separately -- even the hardback sometimes costs less than buying the original paperbacks! You can buy Volume 1: The Missing Princess through a variety of stores worldwide, 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.






    I used to tour extensively, and although I've been "off the road" for several years now, I do still like to commit to an occasional online event or two, via Zoom or Skype or something similar. They're not quite the same thing as an in-person event, and obviously I can't sign any books via my computer screen (not yet, anyway, though I'm sure the technology will get us to that point eventually!), but according to the feedback I receive from teachers, they still generate a lot of excitement among their students, who get to hear me do a reading, and then have the chance to ask me lots of questions. There are also no geographical boundaries as far as virtual events are concerned -- I recently did one with a school in the Middle East, and it was no different to doing one in the UK or Ireland.


    So, if YOU happen to be a teacher or librarian (or if you're a student, show this to your teacher or librarian, and plead with them to follow up on it!), anywhere in the world, and are interested in contacting me to enquire about the possibility of arranging an online event, please feel free to reach out and drop me a line -- you can get through to me directly using the email address: [email protected]


    I don't charge for these events, and I'm happy to tailor them according to the ages of the children involved and any of my series that you would like me to focus on -- a lot of schools use Cirque Du Freak as a classroom text, so that what I'm normally asked to read from, but I'm just as happy to talk dark horror with The Demonata, political horror with Zom-B, or fantasy with Archibald Lox or The Thin Executioner, or a mix of any or all of those. I don't say YES to every request, but I don't say NO to all of them either -- helpful hint: a deciding factor for me can be the number of children involved, with the more being the merrier...


    I look forward to hearing from YOU??? soon... :-) [email protected]






    It's guilty confession time!!!


    There were some lovely reviews for the first three Archibald Lox books last year on The Bookbag, a brilliant site for book reviews. The reviewer was called Jill Murphy, which gave me extra cause to be pleased, because I knew her name from the book series, The Worst Witch. It's always cool when another author gives one of your books a nice mention, and beyond wonderful if they take the time to actually write a review for it. I was well chuffed, and even included an amazing quote on the back covers of some of the books: "I read quite a lot during lockdown but nothing made me smile quite as much as these first three instalments in the Archibald Lox series," attributing it to Jill Murphy, author of The Worst Witch.


    I don't know why, but some months later, as I was smiling away to myself when I caught sight of the quote again, I suddenly paused and frowned. "Hang on a moment," I thought. "That lovely Jill Murphy who reviewed all three of the Archibald Lox books... am I absolutely CERTAIN that it's the same Jill Murphy who wrote The Worst Witch... or could it possibly be..." My eyes widened and a lump formed in my throat. "...a DIFFERENT Jill Murphy?!?"


    With trembling fingers, I did a quick online search, and to my dismay, my worst fears were realised -- the two Jill Murphys were NOT one and the same person!!! Cue some swift editing of the attribution on the covers and online stores where I'd included it, done even before the rosy glow of embarrassment had faded from my cheeks!!!!


    Anyway, I'm delighted to say that the lovely Jill Murphy REVIEWER returned for more when I started publishing the Volume 2 books this summer, and wrote a beautiful review for Book 5, Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell, noting in her summary that there was "Some trademark Darren Shan jeopardy in this instalment. We were on the edge of our seats!" Cue another cover quote -- only this time with the CORRECT attribution!!! :-)


    If you'd like to read the full review, which very concisely summarises the novel, giving readers a good taste for what it's like, but without including any spoilers, CLICK HERE


    There's a sad PS to this. When I first posted my "confession" in a blog post last month, a reader informed me that the author Jill Murphy had actually died during the summer. Even in death may she be triumphant!!






    I ran a number of promos over the summer, to tie in with the release of books 4, 5 and 6 of my Archibald Lox series, as a result of which the ebook of book 1, Archibald Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds -- the ebook is always FREE to download -- spent a large portion of the summer months high in various charts on Amazon.


    I've spent a lot of time experimenting with Amazon keywords over the years -- those are words and phrases which influence which categories your books end up in. There are lots and lots of niche categories on Amazon, and there's quite an art to figuring out how to steer a book towards them. It's a useful thing to be able to do, as placing high on any kind of a chart gains a book more exposure, and hopefully nudges a few more readers to take a chance on it. I'm still learning, but I've got much better at this side of things than I was when I first started self-publishing, which is why we're now seeing Archie place on a chart like this Children's Coming Of Age Fantasy Books from back in mid-August.


    I'm very pleased to see Archie on a chart like this, because this series really IS a coming of age story -- something that becomes more and more evident over the course of the three Volumes. "A coming of age fantasy" is probably the neatest, most apt short description I can think of for the series, and it's a relief to be able to "tell" that to the mysterious logarithims of Amazon and actually be "heard"!!! :-)







    A fan of my books called Aimee was reading Ghost Stadium by Tom Palmer recently, and spotted a reference to a certain freakily fabulous YA horror author. She nipped straight onto Twitter to let me know and to share a snap of the relevant page. I was well chuffed -- it's always lovely when a fellow author mentions my name in one of their books, but it doesn't happen too often -- the last time I can recall was when Rick Riordan included it in one of his Magnus Chase novels.


    Many thanks to Aimee for bringing this to my attention, and to Tom of course for including the reference in the first place! If you're unfamiliar with his work, he's the author of LOADS of books for kids and teenagers. You can read a bit more about Ghost Stadium on his web site, where you can also easily find out more about Tom and his other works. CLICK HERE



    we love asda, mummy



    A Tweeter called Tog saw an article on LadBible entitled "Asda Shoppers Shocked By Super Creepy Halloween Decorations" and winkingly asked if I had any hand in it... CLICK HERE


    The reason Tog thought of me was because of my Zom-B series, which featured a host of genderless, nightmarish, yet strangley sweet killer babies who looked a lot like the dolls in the photo attached to the article. They're seen in a dream scene in the first book, though it's a while before B (the narrator) realises that they're actually very much part of the real world, and not just figments of B's imagination. We learn more about them over the course of the series, and one of them -- a cheerful little chap called Holy Moly (because of a big hole in his head, of course!) -- becomes a major player, and in my opinion it's one of the cutest little beasts I've ever conjured up in any of my books.


    If you haven't yet followed me through my undead Shananigans (see what I did there?!?) you can find out more about the series over my web site, in the appropriately titled Books section: CLICK HERE


    And all together now -- "come with us to asda, mummy. we'll wander the aisles together forever and ever and..."







    The students in Year 7 of Carleton High School in the UK have been freakishly busy recently, basing some artistic homework assignments on my book, Cirque Du Freak. First they were challenged to design posters directly inspired by the flyer for the Cirque Du Freak that starts off all the trouble back in book 1. Then they were asked to design horror posters, more generally inspired by the book. I think you'll all agree, they produced some excellent work. Mr Tall has decreed -- A stars all around!!!!! :-)






    As I pointed out earlier in this newsletter, Volume 4 of the Cirque Du Freak manga omnibus goes on sale this month. Collecting books 7 and 8 of the series, it sees the starts of the second half of Darren Shan's storyline, in which the Hunters of the Dusk unite and set off in search of the dreaded Lord of the Vampaneze. Old friends and foes reappear out of the shadows, and the twists and turns come thick and fast.


    If you've never given the Cirque Du Freak manga a try, perhaps this review of Volume 3 might tempt you in. It appeared recently on the Asian Movie Pulse site, where the reviewer urged readers to start with Volume 1 (advice that I would echo) but noted that in their opinion, "this entry is easily the most successful in the series to date." If you'd like to read the full review, CLICK HERE






    Vending machines are normally associated with snacks and drinks, but they can offer so much more. I remember when I travelled to Japan for the first time, nearly twenty years ago, and spotting vending machines that dispensed sushi, hot food, clothes, and lots, lots more. I thought to myself, "We've a lot of catching up to do in the West!" Nearly two decades later, we're still lagging far behind where the Japanese were then, but there's at least one school in the UK where they're tring to pull level...


    Students in Holden Clough in the UK can win books in the school's Readers Of The Week scheme, a wonderful initiative to encourage reading, where those who are chosen get to pick a free book from the school's VERY stylish... book vending machine!! If YOUR school doesn't have one of these, the question really must be asked of those who run the place... WHY NOT?!? :-)


    A bot called Ethan was one of the Readers Of The Week lst month, and he made a freakily fabulous choice, as you can see in the photo above!! 






    There was a very sweet review recently of Cirque Du Freak by an author called Bernard Catam, who lives in the Philippines. I love it when any reader takes the time to write a review for one of my books, but it's always extra sweet if that person happens to be a fellow author, as I know from personal experience that when you spend your whole working day immersed in a world of words, it can take a lot to draw you into writing a review in your supposed free time!! I often mean to write reviews for books I really love, but only very rarely get around to actually doing it, so kudos to Bernard for being a more diligent reviewing author than me!! :-)


    As Bernard says at the start of his review, this was his first time ever reading a book about vampires -- I must admit, that made me chuckle, as I immediately thought to myself, "Fresh blood!!!" What a creature of the night I am!!! To find out what Bernard made of his first foray into the world of vampires, CLICK HERE


    [In case you're not able to -- or unwilling to -- access Facebook, I'm including the entire review below. But if you ARE able -- and willing -- to zip on over to Facebook, please read it there instead, so that Bernard can see the reach that his post is having.]


    I've never read a vampire book in my life before this. I remember watching the movie adaptation when I was a very young kid, younger than Darren (the book protagonist), but hardly recall anything. All I know is that there are freaks, vampire, and a kid.

    I bought a pre-loved mass paperback edition for only 60 pesos and started reading last month every lunch in my office. This is a quick book. Shorter chapters and quick-paced. The author naming the protagonist as himself or the other way around is so fitting. It felt like reading a diary of a 12-year-old boy about a 12-year-old boy.

    It started slow and felt a little bit stretch in the Second Act which I actually enjoyed though so nevermind. I know one important plot point from the start because of the movie and also the sequel's title and that's what made me look for it all throughout the first two acts, kept asking myself the accuracy of what I have recalled.

    But then, the Third Act came and ooohh, boy, I love everything in it. It made me love the characters more, specially Darren and her sister. I love the voice of the characters. It's funny and quirky but still dark at the same time. It made me reminisce how I used to tell stories among my classmates of extraordinary things I've done and witnessed (most of them weren't entirely true). You know, how kids exaggerate events sometimes just to look cool.

    I found myself crying on a scene near the end over a middle-grade paranormal book. When Darren hits, it really hits. This was more like an introduction to the saga, just the beginning of Darren Shan's adventure into the supernatural and I love it. It left on a cliffhanger that will make you imagine everything that might happen on the next installments. Would want explore the vampire mythology more. Highly recommended.






    The four winners of my October Shanville Monthly competition, in the order drawn, were...


    Rebecca Harrod, Ireland.

    Andy Bell, UK.

    Samantha Pender, UK.

    Billy Garner, New Zealand.


    There were 202 entries in total, so everyone had a 50/1 shot. Congratulations to the lucky four, and better luck next time to everyone else!! Speaking of which...







    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, from proof copies (also known as ARCs) that I had ordered ahead of the books' release. I kept the 1/5 copies for myself , and gave 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. I gave away the four copies of Book 4, Archibald Lox and the Forgotten Crypt, in a competition last month, and this month I'm giving away the four copies of Book 5 -- Archibald Lox and the Slides of Bon Repell. Each is signed and numbered, dated 3/8/21 (3rd August 2021, the day the book was released) 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!!


    1) Answer this question: "What is the name of the fifth 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, November 10th, 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, November 11th, 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 November. I hope those of you collecting the omnibus editions of Archibald Lox and the Cirque Du Freak manga enjoy the new additions -- I think they both look fabulous!!  I'm going to leave you with the above meme, which was shared with me recently by a fan called Dominique -- this image has been used in a lot of memes, but for me this is probably its most poignant use to date. Poor, misguided Steve... :-( If YOU create a meme (or work of art) inspired by my work, please 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 into a future blog post, though sometimes there can be quite a long wait. I'll see you all back here at the start of December, for the Christmas issue of the Shanville Monthly. 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.





    If you received an email with a link to this issue of the Shanville Monthly (or other updates on my site) it's because at some point in the past you subscribed to get updates from me. I don't share your details with any third parties, and do not hold them on any independent device -- everything on the subscription front is done through Google Feedburner, and you can read about their privacy policy by CLICKING HERE. (I might change to a different provider in the future -- if so, you will have the choice to opt in or opt out as you see fit.) If you're happy to continue receiving emails from me, you don't need to do anything, and you will continue to be sent updates whenever a new issue of the Shanville Monthly goes live. If, at any point, you wish to unsubscribe, there will always be an Unsubscribe link in any email notification that you receive from me, and you can simply click on that to have yourself removed from my mailing list.