Mightier Than The Sword | 18 August 2010 | Paul Carroll

Larten Crepsley is back. Darren Shan’s latest book, Birth of a Killer takes us on a rollercoaster adventure back to the childhood of our favourite orange-haired vampire, Larten, to show us how and why he became a vampire and all of the things he managed to get himself up to since he became a vampire’s assistant, since he was blooded and more!


I was fortunate enough to receive a free proof copy of the book from Waterstones’s Twitter feed, so I had this book read at the start of August. I’ve been dying to get the review online since, but I didn’t want to get people too excited. It’s not that the book isn’t good, it’s just that I don’t think fans of Shan want to die of awesome before they even get to read the book.


So, how does the book compare to the others?


What, all of them? Okay, it’s a step back from the gore of the Demonata books, and it’s nothing like The Thin Executioner (reviewed here), except in the narrative style – Shan seems to have moved away from first person stories to write in the third person, giving him more mobility with the thoughts and feelings he writes about other characters. If I’m being honest, I preferred his previous methods, but the change is nice. The only problem with the book I can see, based on one reading, is that the narrative can seem a little jumpy, which I’m assuming is a result of getting a proof copy and not the final work. But I forgave it, anyway, because I only noticed it as something that I’d been warned away from in my own writing.


What can you reveal about the book?


Not much. Really, I don’t want to ruin the surprises in store. But familiar names pop up in the book and it’s split into four parts (at least the proof was... I think it’s safe to assume the finished work will be like this, because it works really well!). I can reveal that the book follows Larten Crepsley, though, and that in this book – the first of a new, short series that will tell this tale – he’s not quite the vampire we may remember him as in Cirque du Freak, when we were first thrown into the world of vampires. He’s wilder than Darren was!


Definitely recommended?


If you’re a fan of Darren Shan, yes. If not... well, I’ll actually recommend the book, but maybe after you’ve read The Saga of Darren Shan, so that you can get the same enjoyment out of the book as I did, spotting names you didn’t expect. However, you might still get the same experience if you read them in reverse order, starting with Larten and moving on to Darren. That way, you’ll see the names you became so familiar with popping up in another vampire’s life long after they were originally introduced to Larten! So, yes, read this book. Whether it’s before or after Cirque du Freak is up to you, but definitely give it a shot!

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