Kirkus Reviews | 13 February 2011 |

Larten Crepsley watches as the brutal foreman at a silk factory drowns his cousin, Vur Horston. Moments later, Larten is a fugitive, having stabbed the foreman through the throat. As he cowers in a graveyard eating cobwebs, Larten gets a tempting offer from Seba Niles: work as Seba's assistant and, someday, become a vampire. Fans of Shan's Cirque Du Freak series will enjoy the origin story of their favorite orange-haired vampire, though the gore quotient has been greatly reduced from previous volumes. Cameos abound, from Desmond Tiny to Murlough to the Cirque Du Freak itself. Tidbits of explanation dangle promisingly, but never completely answer questions about character behaviors and motivations. The tapestry of relationships in the earlier works are deconstructed here to threads; it's a nice touch, but the technique makes this narrative less accessible to newcomers to the oeuvre, as it presumes familiarity with the characters and plots. Jumping back in time but keeping the same literary style, the author delivers a solid story.

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