Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Cirque Du Freak

This entry is part 30 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

This was always going to be an easy book to get through.

Less than 200 pages. Decent sized font. Nothing to challenge the mind. Oh, and I’ve read it at least twice before.

It took an evening, and you’d think, how can there be anything to review in a book read in such a short space of time?

And you’d be right.

Darren Shan and Me

Here’s one of those situations where I’ve already done this bit.

In this case, I covered Shan and me in my Thin Executioner review, which you can see here.

In that, I mention how Shan has always been a hero of mine. My favourite author when I was a teenager, and forever a legend both because of the quality of his writing and for his author notes, which were so inspirational to me as a young writer.

What I didn’t mention there was that it all began with Cirque Du Freak.

I was in secondary school, 12 or 13, and one of my closest friends, Mohsin, suggested the Saga of Darren Shan to me.

So I picked up Cirque and loved it. It was fast-paced, easy, engaging, and clever in its take on the old troupe of vampires.

There. I’ve spoiled my review.

Shan became an author I would always read, even as the gap between his target audience’s age and mine widens.

And I’ll always remember it started with…

Cirque Du Freak

In his author notes Shan details the genesis of Cirque Du Freak. He says he thought “what the world really needed was a book that was as fun and easy to read as Goosebumps, but which had some of the darkness and depth of Stephen King.”

I mean does anything seem like a more brilliant premise for a book?

And hey, it worked.

Cirque Du Freak follows Goosebumps in it’s snappy, easy style, and in the frequent cliffhanger chapter ends.

But it’s not quite so obvious as Goosebumps (and that’s not to do Goosebumps down – cause they’re great books). It does add a bit of darkness and depth.

This is a book I will always find hard to review on its own merits. I think back on it now and I’m always surprised it covers as many pages as it does (which isn’t many).

Truth is, nothing much happens, and the reason I love this book is that it launches a fantastic series. More than because it in itself is a fantastic book.

But this is a series that grows stronger with every entry. It’s book three before we get a really gripping tale, and the end of book five before the main series storyline begins.

It’s this storyline that excited me as a kid, and that I still think is brilliant.

Shan wrote this book as a stand-alone, and if it had remained a stand alone I’m not sure it would have ended up the success it is. It’s fast-paced, and a good read, no doubt, but I’m not sure there’s enough there. Not for mass appeal over a long period.

I enjoyed it as a younger reader, and as an adult. But I don’t think I’d have read it again if it wasn’t the entry point to this fab series.

Unfortunately, I don’t own the rest of the books anymore (no idea what happened to them) so I won’t get to review them. But I can say now it’s a series I’d truly recommend, especially if you have or know a teenage boy you’re struggling to get into reading.

Chuck them this, and watch it change their lives.

So long, that is, that they stick with the series and don’t stop at one.

Next Time

Next time we’re going a bit different.

We’re putting down the books altogether and picking up the scripts of one of my favourite TV series of all times.

It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer – episodes one through 29.

See you then.

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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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