Teenreads | 22 January 2012 | Sally M Tibbetts

Larten Crepsley’s life could never be considered an “easy” one. He was born into the most difficult of circumstances and left his hometown as a known killer. He has been in and out of one awful adventure after another --- mostly not of his choosing. But the life of a vampire, living in a human and demonic world, would not be likely to run that smoothly. Sometimes, however, wonderful things can happen. Larten Crepsley has found love.


Love makes many changes in Larten’s life. He is no longer known as Larten Crepsley, but as Vur Horston. He is living in Paris, in the early 1900s, the Paris of Bram Stoker and his famous novel DRACULA. The beautiful Alicia Dunyck isn’t aware of his previous life because the past he reveals to her is fabricated. How can he tell her he’s a vampire? The relationship with Alicia is cemented once she meets the little orphan Gavner Purl, who, according to Larten, is his ward. Though Larten has watched after the child, he is also responsible for the deaths of the boy’s parents and everyone on that ship in Greenland (that is yet another story). So he has carefully avoided any emotional ties to the child.


Alicia bubbles over with motherly love, and a stronger bond is formed among the three. This is all very nice except for the fact that Larten has lied about his past and feels tremendous remorse over murdering Gavner’s parents and all the ship’s occupants. Things still manage to go very well, and in an emotional moment, he actually asks Alicia to be his bride. For the reader, it’s plain to see that something very wrong is going to happen, and it does.


One night, at an art exhibition, Larten encounters another vampire. Though at first frightened that he will now be discovered, he realizes, with a sense of relief, that the vampire is none other than an old friend from his childhood known as Tanish Eul. The renewed friendship springs to life, and Tanish introduces Larten to his own circle of rather shady friends. His warmth toward Gavner also allows him into Larten’s life in a more intimate way. Gavner grows to love and trust the old vampire and affectionately calls him Uncle Tanish.


Before long, Tanish offers Larten some wonderful opportunities with promises that all will be well. If not for Tanish’s greed and deceptive ways, it might have been a happy partnership. Before he knows it, Larten is pulled into a conflict with the vampaneze (a clan who hate vampires) and accused not only of murdering a young woman, but also of being a vampire himself by the very person he thought was a best friend. With only moments to spare, he escapes the city, once again having to live as a hunted/haunted outcast. He also leaves behind his life with a heartbroken Alicia, who now knows his true identity but not his real story.


Where can he go? Where can he find sanctuary? Larten is again tormented and searching for his own peace. Perhaps it’s time for a return to Vampire Mountain. Would they accept him back into their folds? Times do change. What are his chances?


Darren Shan knows what his readers want, and he never disappoints them. The third book in this prequel series to Cirque du Freak brings blood, battles and gore aplenty. The redheaded vampire is a character with depth, feeling and keen intelligence. Fans will be both horrified by and delighted with the twists Shan gives Larten’s tragic story. It’s true; a good vampire (is that an oxymoron?) never dies, though he might cherish that possibility.


What will happen when, years later, Larten meets Gavner as a young, angry man? Readers, get ready for the next installment!

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