| 27 April 2010 | Arthur Chappell
WARNING -- THIS REVIEW CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS!! DO NO READ UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE BOOKEpic final chapter in this fantastic horror-fantasy series for children. At the close of Book Eleven, Darren discovered that Steve’s child ally, Darius, is actually Darren’s own Nephew as Steve had seduced Daren’s sister years before. Steve had escaped at the close of the battle in the last book, leaving Darren with the nephew who is genuinely shocked by his father’s madness. However, as a Vampaneze vampire, Darius could turn into a killer vampire. Unlike normal vampires, the Vampaneze have to kill to feed. Darren takes Darius to his mother, and has a painful reunion with the sister who thought Darren was dead. He shocks her further by introducing her to his vampire allies, and reveals the truth about Steve, her former lover being a vampire and the impending fate of Darius. Darren then saves Darius by feeding him some of his own vampire blood in the hope of changing his Vampaneze nature to that of a normal vampire. It works, though Darren is weakened by the transfusion. Darren now finds out that the Vampaneze have taken over the Vampire Circus, and captured all of his friends and are holding them hostage in a large deserted football stadium. Daren and his few remaining friends rush to the rescue and the final battle against the Vampaneze. The battle wages in favour of the vampires. Darren urges on Harkat, his dead-dwarf friend, to negotiate peace with the Vampaneze at some stage in the future and goes for the final showdown with Steve Leonard himself. This is the fight, which is prophesised. Whoever wins will inevitably take over the World and destroy humanity. Vacha, the other vampire ally gets killed in the battle, as does Steve’s closest ally. There is one surprise when R V, the hook handed former animal rights activist, finally sickened by the violence, sides with Darren’s people, but he dies quickly in a heroic stance. Now Darren mortally wounds Steve. As Steve lies dying, Mr. Desmond TINY turns up and gloats as he watches, with his daughter, the witch Evanna. He tells Darren and the dying Steve that he is their real father (They are literally The Sons Of Des-Tiny). And Darren must now help his fate by turning evil. Darren defeats his fate the only way he can think of – something Des Tiny had failed to contemplate. Darren kills himself. Steve is already dead. You might expect the book to end there, but no. Darren finds that he is trapped in the Lake Of Souls from which he retrieved Harkat’s soul in Book Ten. Now Evanna rescues him himself from it. She tells Darren that the War between the vampires has collapsed and without their messianic leaders, Steve & Darren, the sides are discussing peace, lead by Harkat as Darren wanted. Evanna insists that Darren comes and meets with Des Tiny once more. She also shows Darren that he has a gift for being able to control the dragons of the future earth, which is now ruled, by dragons. Des Tiny hoped that he could sew seeds of a new battle between the vampire clans by getting Evanna pregnant with the first of anew vampire species which would ally with one side or the other (Vampire or Vampaneze) and tip the balance to restart the war. Evanna has in fact got herself pregnant with two children, one of each clan, to maintain equilibrium, and so that her children will unite the clans instead of dividing them again. Her plan is to break humanity and vampires free from predestined fate, to leave us with greater choice. Darren has a role to play in this too. He is first rebodied as one of Mr. Tiny’s little people, like Harkat, though he is allowed to keep his mind, he is stripped of the powers of speech. Darren finds himself in a dwarf body that will last only a short time. Evanna gives him a cloak containing devises, which Des Tiny knows nothing about. Darren keeps that secret too, as he is thrown back into the present from the dragon-infested future. He finds himself back at the Cirque Du Freak on the first night he went to watch a show there way back in the first book. Now he is a dwarf assisting in the acts he is also watching from the audience there. He is touched to see now dead friends, Mr. Crepsley, Mr. Tall, Steve and even himself again as they were when they first met. Darren now changes fate. He frightens his human self by leaping out at him and throwing him out of the circus tent. He sees the young Darren run home in terror instead of getting enraptured by the circus activity and sealing his fate. He has cut himself out of the adventures to come, and therefore broken Steve’s destiny too. Darren’s mysterious gifts from Evanna? His diaries, his life story – to be published in his name as the author for his new self, his human normal self after he has died and gone to Paradise. Des Tiny was always described as hating literature. There is much irony in the fate of Darren Shan becoming such as a result of Tiny’s meddling. It’s a beautiful, poetic, deeply touching and very satisfyingly complete conclusion to a fabulous saga.
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