umanitoba.ca | 23 May 2003 | Ann Ketcheson
The bear lifted its head and bellowed at the sky, then fixed its eyes on me and leered hungrily. Dropping to all fours, it advanced. The wolves leaped at it but it shook them loose as though they were fleas. I was still dazed from the blow, not able to get to my feet. I began crawling through the snow.......I was on my own. Me against the bear. No one could help me now.Six years after his conflict with Murlough, Darren Shan has settled into life at the Cirque du Freak only to find out that Mr. Crepsley wants him to travel to Vampire Mountain where he will be taken before a panel of Vampire Princes and Vampire Generals.The trek to the mountain is fraught with difficulties wolves and a bear, snow and cold. Darren needs all his survival skills to get through safely. And the mountain isn't exactly a 5 star hotel! Much of it is a maze of tunnels in which one could easily get lost. The rest is a series of rooms with difficult names, including a death chamber! There are no showers, only primitive toilets and, naturally, all the vampires sleep in coffins! Darren meets many of the vampires, including Arra Sails with whom he is tested in combat using a staff and mounted on bars.Vampire Mountain is a fast paced page turner with many plot twists and gruesome details which will keep reluctant readers involved with the novel. The cast of characters is expanded into the new world of Vampire Mountain, complete with Vampire Princes and Vampire Generals, and readers also get a more detailed view of one of the Little People from the Cirque du Freak. Vampire lore continues to be explained, such as the methods used for fighting, reasons why there are so few female vampires, and the relationship between vampires and wolves.Vampire Mountain is the first book of a new three part adventure which continues in books five and six of the Saga of Darren Shan. Near the end of this novel, to preserve Mr. Crepsley's pride and his own, Darren agrees to participate in the Trials, a severe test where failure means certain death.Readers who have enjoyed the series of young adult horror fiction so far will undoubtedly find this book an excellent continuation of the thrills and chills, horror and terror of the world of vampires.Highly Recommended. Rating: 4 out of 4.
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