TeenReads | 28 June 2012 | Sally M Tibbetts

Following a series of horrific and heartbreaking events, Larten Crepsley realizes that he must retreat from the world yet again. The only place left, where the vampire knows he can find peace, is a monastery tucked away in the mountains. The silent walls around him are like a safe cocoon from all the years of blood and betrayal. Though he still looks like a young man in his 20s, Larten feels every one of his hundreds of years. His depression and grief can only heal with time and distance.


It is through Brother Laurence that Larten is introduced to the fabulous Madam Octa, “[a] huge, multicolored spider…hairy legs, a green, purple and red ball of unconcealed menace.” To his surprise and pleasure, Madam Octa takes to him. He can handle her with apparent ease as she crawls over his face, weaving webs across his eyes and tickling him. They form such a strong bond that when he finally is able to leave the monastery, she accompanies him back to the Cirque du Freak.


BROTHERS TO THE DEATH marks the end of the prequel series to Darren Shan’s famous Cirque du Freak novels. So much has happened to the redheaded vampire, and his final journey leading to the monastery is full of sadness and, of course, gore. Rather than tell you all the things that happen in the fourth book, you most certainly will want to read it for yourself. Like the other installments, this one is sprinkled with an array of fascinating characters, some of whom we never met before. There’s his beloved Alicia (she is very human and aging as the vampire stays young), her daughter Sylva, and Gavner, the young man he mentors whose parents he killed. A beautiful vampire named Seba and his dear friend Webster are also part of this story. Then there’s a quest for Randel Chayne, a vampire who changes everything that happens in Larten’s life. Larten remains in the middle of the vampire wars and on the edge of happenings as they try to get him into position to become the next prince.


Shan gives his grand finale a totally unexpected twist…one that will both surprise and horrify readers. Larten is challenged in ways that few can imagine. His tragedy and his happiness painfully put him at risk as he tries to make sense of the unexpected cruelties that assail him. Readers will be as surprised as Larten when he discovers who his betrayer actually is.


Sam Weber augments BROTHERS TO THE DEATH with a great cover, depicting Larten Crepsley with the rather creepy-looking Madam Octa crawling up towards his face. The colors are perfect for creating the feeling of the entire series: glowing green and blood red. Fans can continue to follow Larten into the original eight books that deal with his life once he is a permanent part of Cirque du Freak. Shan never fails to give us the best, goriest and most horrifying adventures, and this prequel series is no exception.

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