Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cirque du Freak : Vampire Mountain

Level: Youth to Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Horror > Vampires
Obtained: Purchased at Borders
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

About the Book: 
Six years later (eight years since the initial change), we return to Darren Shan's adventure. This time Crepsley plans on bringing Darren before the Council to see what verdict will be placed due to a child being blooded. Before that though, they have to worry about making their way up the snowy mountain with no help but their own skin (and barefoot). Along the way will prove dangerous, of course, as they run into rabid bears, wolves, and even vampenze!

Rating: 7/10
Research! As a writer, you need to do research! Shan has been notorious for having flaws in this series so far (for example, in The Vampire's Assistant, Shan describes Evra's snake as slimy). Although this bothered me before, it was always simply a sentence here or there. Yes, it was jarring and brought me out of the story. It caused my suspension of disbelief to snap, and I found it so much worse in this book because it was staring me in the face for a good quarter of it. It was because of this that I actually rated this book a seven instead of an eight. The issue I have with Shan's lack  of research was that a simple Google search could have provided the answer. So what bugged me so much in this book? While trekking to Vampire Mountain, Darren  a pack of wolves. First off, they tended to act more like dogs than wolves, such as the male rolling on his back to get his belly rubbed. Granted, wolves and vampires are supposed to get along extremely well in this world. Even though this bugged me, if it was the only issue, I might have been able to ignore it. However, Shan was also constantly calling the wolf pup a cub, and at one point the pup actually manages to climb a tree, but the attacking bear cannot. I'm sorry, but even children know it's a wolf pup and that wolves don't climb trees. I can understand not getting everything right, but these are facts that even kids know.

Other than the obvious lack of research, I found myself enjoying the book. Even though some of the things seemed odd to me (like bat broth), I really appreciated that Shan's vampires are not your typical vampires. We learned early in the series that Shan's vampires actually age, but in Vampire Mountain, we learn more about them as a group. Instead of your typical aristocratic type, Shan's vampires are more "masculine." They are constantly having physical challenges, and their highest leaders are apt to be quite brawny. Shan's vampires actually reminds me of barbarians of sorts, and even though their ways had a familiar feel about them, it was interesting to view their traditions (even if I didn't always agree with them).

Shan also managed to hit me with a good amount of surprises throughout this tale, such as when one of the Little People started talking or when you learn what they are. Shan also continues to let Darren make mistakes and be flawed, which I always appreciate, and Shan's fast paced writing and story telling keeps me more (especially with the cliff hanger he leaves us on). Cirque du Freak is definitely getting more interesting as the story unfolds. It really is a tale of its own caliber, an original piece. I just hope that the rest of the series isn't so poor in its facts so that it can be even more enjoyable and more believable.

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  1. Ugh, the pup/cub thing really bothered me too.

  2. It turns out that in England (at least) they use the word cub so it looks like it's an Atlantic thing (Shan is Irish). However, it doesn't excuse the rest.