| 06 November 2000 | John McLay
Coming hot and bloodily on the heels the two opening Darren Shan sagas, Cirque du Freak and The Vampire's Assistant, this third episode in the life of a vampire-to-be is reassuringly gut-wrenching and still as addictive.Shan again makes no bones about his new life as a half-vampire in the shadow of his full-vampire master, Mr Crepsley. It's brutal and gory, but also fascinating and compelling. Darren's life is different from those around him and he's plagued by feelings of rejection. He's fit and energetic, with superb sensory perception--and he's growing stronger every day. Yet, he is tormented by the human life he has left behind. He can't make normal friends and has no family except the strange and unearthly collection of hobos who inhabit his usual home--the touring circus-of-horrors that is the Cirque du Freak.In Tunnels of Blood, Shan and the snake-boy Evra--who seems hell-bent on tracking down a rogue vampire on the loose--visit a nameless city on the coat-tails of Crepsley. Vampire law, such that as is, has been violated and a particularly foul and loathsome creature of the night is killing humans in a distinctly uncivilised way. But the monster has picked Crepsley's home town in which to wreak havoc and he must be stopped. Darren, however, has suspicions about Crepsley's motives and his intervention at a crucial point in the hunt threatens dire consequences for all concerned.Throughout, Shan is debunking myths of the undead by the page-load and then creating a fair few of his own too. Garlic and a fear of the cross is hokum it seems, but Vampire Generals and Vampaneze are fair game.Despite the story being a bit thinner than in the previous two books, it's still inventive and original, with page-turning action and cliffhanging chapters galore. Shan is trying very hard to entertain and he's getting away with it.
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