Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare

cover image for Cirque du Freak: A Living NightmareShan, D. (2001) Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare.  New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.


He knows he’s not supposed to go.  After all, that’s why he goes to all the trouble of sneaking out.  But Darren Shan and his best friend Steve Leonard want nothing more than to go to the questionable and possibly illegal Cirque Du Freak (Circus of Freaks)  – in town for a short time only.  Until they get there, and Darren sees something that he just can’t live without – and it’s revealed that Steve has had something more in mind all along.

Darren is not the most likable of protagonists, but that’s part of what makes this story work.  In a world full of vampires, snake-boys, and spiders that can read your thoughts, the honesty of Darren’s internal conflicts lends believability to the unlikely events of the plot.  It’s clearly meant to be the first in the series – it’s much more a set up than a proper story itself, but it’s delightfully gory, scary, and heart-wrenching; the perfect combination to keep tweens turning the pages.

This first installment isn’t too much for most tweens to handle, but I’ve heard that the series gets progressively darker.

Best for ages 10-16


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