| 24 April 2010 | Hilary Williamson
What a promising title, even more so than Cirque Du Freak or The Vampire's Assistant, the first two tales in Darren Shan's spooky saga. My eleven-year-old son had already declared this one the best yet so I prepared myself carefully for it. I settled down to read, with a black cat in lap and a bunch of garlic at hand. I know Darren says garlic is no good against vampires but, after all, it can't hurt, can it?In this third of the series, Darren has settled into the life of a vampire's assistant. We see him (in his 'colorful pirate costume') doing chores at the Cirque - gathering vittles (dead fox and rats) for Lefty and the other Little People, and filling in for Mr. Crepsley in his act with Madam Octa. Darren hangs out with his best friend, scaled snake-boy Evra, and we finally meet a Vampire General and learn, along with Darren, just a little bit about the dangerous world of the vampire community ... as Darren says about full vampires 'You could fill a book with all the stuff I know nothing about.'As a result of the General's visit, Larten Crepsley leaves on a mission to the city, and Darren and Evra (his snake is in winter hibernation) tag along on vacation. Christmas is coming and Darren looks forward to a hotel celebration of the holiday. Then he meets the charmingly forward Debbie Hemlock, and they go on a date to the movies. Though the friends worry about Debbie's reaction to Evra's differences they shouldn't. All she says when he demonstrates his ability to stick his long tongue up his nose is 'That's the grossest, greatest thing I've ever seen!'But the vacation ends abruptly when Evra spots a TV news report of serial killings, in which the victims have their throats slashed and are drained of blood. Who else could it be but Mr. Crepsley? Determined to stop him, Darren and Evra start to track the vampire's nightly forays through the city. They get more than they bargained for in an eerie encounter in a slaughterhouse. The action and danger escalate further in tunnels below the city, where Darren is forced to make difficult choices, involving his best friend Evra and his new girlfriend Debbie.If you haven't tried this series yet, see how it all starts in Cirque Du Freak. If you're already a fan, you'll love this third in the series. My son was right; it is the best yet. It covers some good topics - about trust given and received, prejudice and differences, young romance, responsibility, and the nature of evil. Tunnels of Blood starts with the feel of a slightly scary ride through an amusement park Haunted House. The suspense builds steadily and then Darren Shan goes straight for the jugular!
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