epinions.com | 06 August 2005 | ???
When Darkness Falls, Pray That The “Allies of The Night” Are With You Aug 06 '05 (Updated Aug 08 '05)Author's Product Rating Product Rating: 5.0Pros Ties up some loose ends from previous books, cliffhanger ending.Cons Drags in some spots but a must read for fans of the series.The Bottom Line Shan braved death more than a few times but how will he handle facing off against the Vampaneze Lord and choosing between love and honor? Full Review Being someone who is into vampires, Halloween related themes and anything off the beaten track it would have only have been a matter of time before I stumbled upon the Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan. As luck would have it, a friend sent me the second book not knowing that it was indeed the second - the reason behind the gift, the title, ”The Vampire’s Assistant”. As soon as I started reading it I knew that I would be getting the rest of the books in the series; at first I thought that there were only a couple of them but soon discovered that there were a total of twelve. It’s unclear if there will be more to come and I haven’t read the last two so I can’t say if Shan gets picked off or not. He has had the luck of the vampires with his so far; he left his family behind, became a half vampire, endures the hunt for Murlough, made it through the Trials of Initiation ... but some of his biggest tests are at hand. He must choose between the ‘good of the clan’ [his vampire brothers] or his love for Debbie, dealing with old friends who are now present day threats and facing the grim reality that his some of his blood sucking brethren may not live to see the next sunset.Cirque Du Freak: Allies of the NightThe mystery of the Vampaneze Lord is still hovering over Darren, Harkat and Crepsley; they have been told by Mr. Tiny that they have only four chances for their paths to cross with the Lord and kill him, if not, the vampaneze would prove triumphant in the War of The Scars. After being told to follow their hearts in order to find the Lord of the vampaneze, disturbing news from Crepsley’s home town beckon the trio of hunters to an oh so familiar place. While the actual city isn’t mentioned, it is the same place that was visited in ”Tunnels of Blood” when Shan and Crepsley battled against the mad vampaneze named Murlough. The book opens with a series of newspaper reports about the eleven mysterious murders that have occurred over the past six months and how the city is in an uproar with no one feeling safe.Harkat, Crepsley and Shan have all been going though the tunnels that run under the city streets hoping that they will come across the vampaneze as well as their minions, the vampets. Personally, I think Shan should have come up with something a little more creative than ‘vampaneze’ [sounds too close to chimpanzee to me] and ‘vampet’ [sounds like a vampire cheerleader] but I just write the reviews, not the books. They are joined again by Vancha March, a vampire prince, the third ‘hunter’ that Mr. Tiny and Lady Evanna spoke of in their prophecies. Strange things are starting to happen to Shan; first he gets a visit from a school inspector, Mr. Blaws, asking why he hasn’t been to the school he enrolled in then when he does go to the school, one of his teachers happens to be none other than his former love interest Debbie Hemlock. To top things off, he’s attacked by a vampaneze in an alley and the person that comes to his aid is his former best friend Steve Leopard. The same Steve Leopard that once swore he would hunt him down and kill him for becoming a vampire, or at least a half vampire, when he felt that it was his true place to be one.When I read that Debbie was his teacher and that she recognized him, I wondered how the hell he was going to explain thirteen years having past since they saw each other yet he only looked a few years older. He came up with a story about having a disease that makes him age slower than other people; a thin ruse but it worked for a while. All the while Shan, Crepsley and Harkat are trying to figure out who sent the papers to the school, if it was a coincidence that Debbie is a teacher there and the ‘accidental’ meeting of Darren and Steve and Steve’s sudden change of heart. He gave Darren a story about hating vampires until he took the time to meet then and learn of their ways. When Crepsley returns from Vampire Mountain to attend the funeral of Paris Skyle he is joined by Vancha March; Crepsley has strong suspicions about Steve but Vancha says that just because someone has ‘bad blood’ it doesn’t mean that they are bad.Another person that rejoins the story line is R.V., he was first introduced in ”The Vampire’s Assistant” as a eco-warrior that was attacked by the wolfman at the Cirque Du Freak and was last seen running into the night with both hands severed from the attack. You don’t find out about R.V. or the part that he plays in the story until half way through. He is mentioned but never by name until mid way through; very clever on Shan’s part. Steve does a wonderful job of convincing everyone that he is dedicated to the cause of killing off the vampaneze and even brags about killing six of them while they slept in the day. Little do Vancha, Crepsley, Harkat and Shan know but Steve is half vampaneze and is leading them into a trap. Once Debbie is kidnapped and led into the tunnels, Steve swears that he will ‘get revenge’ [but never says who he will get revenge on] ... with all four hunters looking for Debbie, they walk right into a trap after they wound a vampaneze and trail him back into the tunnels. Who is standing at the back of the group with a huge smile on his face, Steve. That’s when he removed his gloves at the request of Mr. Crepsley and reveals the marks in his fingertips.Mr. Crepsley And MeA few reviews ago I mentioned that the phrasing of things like ‘Mr. Crepsley and me” or “Harkat and me” really bugged me to no end. Alas, that was put to rest in this book when Debbie corrected him during one of the tutoring lessons. I had to smile once he started using “Debbie and I” or “Mr. Crepsley and I” in the stories. I have no idea why this bugged me so much when it was said in the other books but I think most of it was that it was showing bad grammar. It just adds to the charisma of the book showing that even though he is a Prince, he is still in some ways still a child.The Cirque Du Freak SeriesAs I have mentioned in all the reviews of the books so far, these are a fantastic read for those who are into darker themes, graphic novels in the Buffy or Angel series or anyone that is into vampires. Shan does an awesome job with the graphic details of the novels and really sucks you into reading them from cover to cover to figure out what is going to happen next. There are some parts of the book that move slowly but if you skip over them you will end up missing out on the little things that Shan adds - things that might not have any relevance for two or three books.The Bottom LineI read this book and “Killers of The Dawn” back to back and I am so glad that I picked up the two of them at the same time. If I had to wait a day or two to find out what happened with the battle and face off with the Lord of the vampaneze I think I might have driven myself insane. Even so, when I read “Killers of The Dawn” I figured that the last three books in the series would tie things up but no, Shan had to go and throw in one of the biggest plot twists ever in book number nine. If you thought that Darren being made a prince to save his life after failing the Trials of Initiation was big, wait until you read the next book. That’s one of the many things that I love about Shan’s writings; even though there might be a few dull spots here and there - they are filled with little things that eventually turn into very big things. When I was reading this book I found that the whole “why isn’t he in school” plot was stupid but after reading the book I saw exactly how Shan used the theme in a number of ways. That’s just one example of “the boring” things that turn into a critical part of future events. Kudo’s to Shan for another fantastic installment in the Cirque Du Freak series!
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