Spinechills | 31 March 2011 | Holly Harkness

Epitaph (In a Nutshell): The start of another great series from the master of YA horror.


Dearly Departed, We are gathered here today to discuss Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan. I've been rubbing my greedy hands together in anticipation of this book for a while now. Australia's rather behind the rest of the world in publishing the first in the Saga of Larten Crepsley, due out on 1 April which will coincide nicely with Shan's visit to our shores. I will definitely be attending, if only to screech at him about how excellent his latest book is.


Mr Crepsley was one of my favourite characters in Saga of Darren Shan, though he definitely took some warming to. He was always enigmatic, right up to his final moments, so it was fascinating seeing what the boy behind the vampire was like. I loved the little nods towards his older self, like the origin of eating spider webs, and his early years with Seba Nile. When Larten's cousin Vur Horston was introduced at the start of the book, I was scratching my head wondering where I'd heard the name before. When I went back to Darren Shan I realised it was the fake name Larten gave when they were staying at the hotel in New York in one of the earlier books. I've read that Shan writes all the books in his series before publishing even the first, and it shows when he includes details like this. I loved these little surprises scattered throughout!


The brilliance of Shan's writing shines through right from page one. At the time I started reading Birth of a Killer, I was halfway through a non-horror book. Two hundred pages in, and I'd only just got to the inciting incident. No dice. I put the other book down in favour of Killer and wasn't disappointed - within the first fifty pages so much had happened and the story raced along after that. Shan really knows how to suck you in and keep you there!


While I'm clearly a fan of his other books, I think that any reader could come to Killer without having read Shan's previous works. It's definitely a standalone series that is gruesome, gleeful and compulsively readable!

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