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Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

Review by Alleandra

The World
Somewhere on earth (probably Ireland) in what looks like modern times. A date is not specifically mention, nor a country, and the names used are ‘false’.

The Characters
Young Darren Shan (who I guess is about 11-13 in age), his best friend Steve Leonard, school friends Alan Morris and Tommy Jones. Darren’s parents and his younger sister are also featured as is the mysterious Mr. Crepsley and Madam Octa.

The Story
The premise of this series is that it is a true story recounted by Darren Shan. He changes everyone’s names to protect them.

Darren and his family and friends are all living a perfectly normal life. One day, his friend Alan shows them all a flyer he stole from his older brother, advertising the Cirque du Freak show. The Cirque is only in town for a few days, tickets are $23 person and children are not supposedly allowed. One of their teachers, Mr. Dalton, takes the flyer away, and his general condemnation of freak shows makes the boys wild to go see it. Little do they know, that seeing it will drastically alter the lives of two of the boys, forever. The Cirque du Freak is no ordinary (are there ordinary?) freak show. The boys end up dealing with magic and monsters.

This YA book was very quick reading (I finished in a matter of hours) and is definitely a fun book. It tries to be somewhat scary, and certainly approaches the creepy, although I doubt too many kids would be scared. Maybe young ones would be. Anyway, the characters are nicely drawn, if not too deeply.

Of the two recent YA books advertised as being the ‘next Harry Potter’, this is the most enjoyable. It even boasts a cover blurb from JK Rowling. That said, it has more in common with Something Wicked this way Comes then with boy wizards. The characters were all better developed then any of the characters in the much hyped Artemis Fowl, the other YA book entered in the next HP sweepstakes. The book’s fast pace keeps you going. Its sequel is due out this fall, and although the hardcover format is pricey, I will probably get it.

Oh, and deadly poisonous spiders do not make good pets.

4.25 amulets

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