Emotionally Fourteen | 28 September 2010 | Kelly Prior

Birth of a Killer is the highly anticipated new novel from Darren Shan. The first novel in The Saga of Larten Crepsley, and the prequel to The Saga of Darren Shan, it chronicles a young and naïve Larten’s first steps towards Vampirism. Having seen enough brutality and death in his young life already, an incident in the silk factory where he works forces Larten to flee, literally for his life. Taking refuge in a dark and murky crypt, Larten meets Seba, a vampire, a “bloodsucker”, looking for a new recruit to be his assistant. Knowing that he can never return to his old life, Larten joins Seba and begins his vampire training, much in the same way as we saw a young Darren Shan become Mr. Crepsley’s assistant in Cirque Du Freak, the first book in The Saga of Darren Shan.


Birth of a Killer really does stand as an example of how far Darren Shan has come as a novelist. It’s gripping and intense in all the right places, while still managing to be intelligent, emotional and sensitive where it’s needed. Shan set himself the difficult task of recreating the steps that his character Darren took in The Saga of Darren Shan, without making this book seem like a carbon copy. It’s unique in many ways, while still allowing us to revisit so many fond memories like Darren’s stay at the Cirque du Freak, his encounter with the Vampaneze Murlaugh, and the endurance-testing visit to Vampire Mountain.


Mr. Crepsley has always been one of Shan’s most interesting and entertaining creations and Birth of a Killer provides avid fans a chance to see the real story behind his past. For passers-by, just looking for a good read, it will not disappoint, but you would be better off reading The Saga of Darren Shan first, to avoid any confusion. This book moves fast. Larten grows from a young boy to a thirty year old man during the course of this first book and has many different adventures and experiences. It’s very dark and gloomy in places; something to be said about a lot of Shan’s books, but it is also a work of comical genius and is almost impossible to put down.


A writer for both children and adults, Shan succeeds yet again in creating a novel that appeals to all age groups and neglects no one. Shan’s imagination is remarkable and he boasts a great command of dialogue and character development.


The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:

Violence: Lots of fighting, some graphic deaths.

Sex/Nudity: None.

Swearing: Some made-up vampire swearing.

Summary: This book will not disappoint any fan of Vampire fiction or general fantasy. For fans of Shan’s work, it is the Holy Grail, answering many questions. 10/10

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