| 30 May 2000 | Nicola Perry
The Vampire's Assistant is the second instalment in the saga of Darren Shan, which began with Cirque du Freak. Then, Darren made the difficult decision to become a half-vampire to save his best mate Steve Leopard's life. Now, he must leave his friends and family behind as he travels cross-country with the vampire Mr Crepsley and the Cirque du Freak. Early on, Darren dispels the vampire myth in his typically facetious fashion:Crosses and holy water didn't hurt us. All garlic did was give us bad breath ... A stake through the heart would kill us, of course, but so would a bullet or a knife or electricity ... We were tougher to kill than normal people, but we weren't indestructible.However, despite Darren's seeming flippancy, The Vampire's Assistant is not for the squeamish or faint-hearted. How long can Darren go before he must drink human blood? How safe are Darren's new-found friends? Why don't the mysterious, blue-hooded dwarves speak or cry out in pain? And does their master Mr Des Tiny really feed on little children? No one is safe in this gruesome, macabre tale--more a who's-going-to-do-what than a who-dunnit:And then the red monster was on him. Stanley opened his mouth to scream, but before he could, the monster's hands--claws?--clamped over his mouth. There was a brief struggle, then Stanley was sliding to the floor, unconscious, unseeing, unknowing.Familiar characters include Mr Tall, the wolf-man and Evra, the snake boy, who are more fleshed out in this follow-up. New characters include Darren's new mate Sam and R G (Reggie Veggie), an ecowarrior. If book one whet your appetite, then The Vampire's Assistant will certainly leave you hungry for more. Watch out for the next fang-tastic sequel.
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