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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, New York Times best-seller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human/half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers - Mr. Crepsley - is a vampire!

Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishes - but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.

©2013 Darren Shan (P)2013 Blackstone Audio

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  • Katherine
  • St. Johns, FL, United States
  • 02-27-14

Horror for children

Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.

“Only the world’s dumbest person would run a risk like that again. Step forward — Darren Shan!”

Darren Shan (which is the name of the author and the protagonist of the CIRQUE DU FREAK series) was having a pretty normal life until one of his best friends finds an advertisement for the Cirque du Freak. After they “borrow” some money from their parents and sneak out at night, Darren and Steve discover a weird world that they never could have dreamed of. Darren is particularly enchanted by Mr. Crepsley and his performing spider, Madam Octa. This spider kills a goat on stage and then obeys Mr. Crepsley’s commands. When they stay after the show, Darren and Steve discover that Mr. Crepsley is a vampire!

Darren should have left well enough alone, but, unfortunately, he makes another crucial error in judgment. And another, and another. Horror is heaped upon horror and, at the end of the book, the lives of Darren and his friends and family are changed forever. In a very bad way.

A Living Nightmare is a horror novel for older children and young teens (I’d say ages 10-15 are probably the target audience) and it’s pretty effective. As an adult, I found it scary and it even gruesome in parts. Kids who don’t like horror may not appreciate it, but those who do are likely to find this to be a fast-paced, compelling, unputdownable read. The series is immensely popular around the world and a movie has been produced.

Even though Darren makes some really dumb mistakes, he’s a likeable kid who you can’t help but root for. I do wish, however, that he’d had a better grammar teacher. Sentences such as “Steve and me looked at each other and gulped” really make me cringe.

As a parent, I hated the ending of A Living Nightmare. I can’t tell you what happens or it will spoil the whole thing, but I’ll just say that it’s obvious that Darren Shan (the author) was not a parent when he wrote this. A particular conversation that Darren’s mom and dad have at the end would never happen. But, even so, the ending is completely (horrifyingly) compelling and will have most of Shan’s readers eager to pick up the next book, The Vampire’s Assistant, immediately. Which is what I did.

There are twelve books in the CIRQUE DU FREAK series and Blackstone Audio has been releasing them on audio. They’re narrated by Ralph Lister. Lister is one of the most enthusiastic narrators I’ve ever listened to and sometimes I love him and sometimes I don’t. He’s wonderful with the scary tense scenes, but he tends to overplay the quieter scenes which, I think, disrupts the tension-release that author Darren Shan does so well. I’d suggest listening to a sample to make sure you like Lister’s style.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I love it!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would recommend this to a friend because it's FREAKING AWESOME!!!!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare?

When Darren told us about the vacuum cleaner incident. :)

Which scene was your favorite?

When they met Mr.Tall.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

He's a vampire's WHAT!?!

Any additional comments?

Peeps out there, you should listen to this!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Still love it.

I first got this book in grade 3, some 10 or so years ago and loved reading it. It really brings back great memories listening to it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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My first audio book experince

I really love this book I do perfer reading to listening so this was a differnt experince for me and very interesting bit I would love to go back and read this book myself because I love to sink myself into the story but this is nice when you are doing something and you want to read something.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Topeka, KS, United States
  • 12-12-13

Such a great introduction book!

Would you listen to Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare again? Why?

Yes. I loved the narrator, and I fully enjoyed this quick listen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I liked the circus master. I can't remember his name, but he sounds so mysterious and creepy, but you want to know more.

What does Ralph Lister bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I started reading it, but I decided to try the audio and I'm so glad I did. He adds an extra oomph of creepy.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I did, and I'm so glad I was able too, because I loved it so much.

Any additional comments?

Start it now!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Episode Cliff Hanger

It's a good story, but it stops a little short. It feels like a mid season cliff hanger. suspenseful, but feels like the conclusion should be here soon. if I had to wait for the next book I don't know if I'd stay committed to hearing it.

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  • Wade
  • Modesto, CA
  • 11-02-17

Flawless

This is one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. Sure it’s YA, but it has timeless/ageless themes that run through it. Basic good/evil, friends, family, morals, coming of age, and on.

Tackles all of these things and has a great sense of humor too. Narration was spot on.

BTW. the movie was solely underrated.

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decent opener for a potential good Thriller.

one of the most redeeming things about this story is, how the writer was able to take you inside the circus, and all of the act's from within.

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Awsome

Loved it 10 out of 10 i would reccomed i loved this book so much

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Hey

iI loved this book it was amazing i am defiantley going to read more !!!!!😊😊

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  • Louis
  • 05-27-17

came higly recommended

im a hufe vampire fan and this book came recomended from several friends. however ther is little original thoght to be found and almost nothing happens. every book i though ok next book stuff is going down but each finale was more disapointing tyan the one before

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  • mike
  • 01-24-17

Very well performed!

I have always taken a liking to darren shan from the demon saga. This book is definiatly the best so far, truely brilliant.

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  • Louis-Sebastian
  • 08-27-16

Stephen King meets Harry Potter

I am so excited to continue this series after this book. The story could trim a little fat and unessesery suspense slows down a otherwise fast paced and refreshing story. I can't say now, but it looks like this is a series I'll be reading for my kids one day, along with lotr and hp series. Give it a go!

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  • Miss Alison Shipley
  • 05-05-15

Amazing

I love this book, I mean really love it, it is well read and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful