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TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT -- reviewed by Eileen Armstrong

Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak series, now in its seventh volume, is becoming cool and collectable (Collins Children's Books, 3.99 each). The fast-paced adventures of an average bored schoolboy start when he steals a tarantula from a freak show, meets an array of half-human creatures and is forced to choose between life as a vampire and the death of his best friend. Overflowing with guts, gore and unguessable plot twists, this series is a stylishly written alternative to the now jaded Point Horror.

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