Pros: Darren's growth (mentally); the plot thickens
Cons: "The purge?" Seriously Mr. Shan?
The Bottom Line: Just when you think that things are relatively simple in this series, things take a turn for the extremely drastic.
Welcome to Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series. Located in the teen section of the bookstore, it's probably best left for them to read. Still, if you're interested in a bit of teen horror, it's not a bad series to check out.
This is the seventh book out of twelve, so you'd best start here or you'll get confused and spoil everything.
14 years have passed since Darren became a half-vampire. He's got the respect of a Vampire Prince and the scars to show for his struggles and fights. But by now the War of the Scars (vampires vs. vampaneze) is in full swing. The vampires are desperate to find the Vampaneze Lord and kill him to keep the horrible prophecy of their demise from coming true. When Mr. Tiny comes to Vampire Mountain, he brings some news. There will be four chances to kill the Vampaneze Lord and there can only be three that can hunt him; Darren, Mr. Crepsley, and one other they have to find...
Things are getting good. Haha. Finally the main plot has taken massive strides forward. We join Darren not so much at the start of the war, but rather right smack in the middle of it. We've progressed down the line another 6 years from the previous 8, and it really is nice to see how Darren's changed throughout the years. He still has moments of random kid-ness, but for the most part he acts older like he should. Add to that his status in the vampire world and how he's helping to conduct the war (with Mr. Crepsley's help that is), I'm truly liking Darren's character.
Things do get a little more weird in this book, from the other vampire they meet up with, to the witch they hang around for a while, to the strange things that Darren sees in Harkat's dreams. The plot has definitely thickened and I'm quite excited to see what the future books have to deliver ahead of me.
The one thing I thought was just...goofy was "the purge." Basically at one point Darren goes through what sounds more like a massive onslaught of puberty than anything else, and is described as his vampire blood attacking his human blood. Why that makes him grow a little more and get all hairy is beyond me. Frankly, I think it's just the author's way of getting Darren to look older than he is (I'm still assuming he was around 11 or 12 when he became a half-vampire in the first book, and after 14 years would only look 14 or 15ish being that he ages 1/5 the rate of humans). I agree with the idea of vampire blood messing with regular human blood after a while, the effects of such an attack I do not agree with. But hey, I'm not the author or the target reader.
Overall, a good book and a strong step in the right direction of more plot advancement. I don't think there will be much room for transition books at this point. I still have five books to go and I'm looking forward to seeing how this all pans out in the end.