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VOYAFor months, Vampire Prince Darren Shan has been on a mission to kill Steve Leopard, the Vampaneze Lord and Darren's greatest enemy. Unable to shake the knowledge that either he or Steve must rise to become the deadly Lord of the Shadows and lead the world into possible devastation, Darren suffers from nightmares and frets about his humanity. He is now living back in his hometown, where his adventure began at the Cirque du Freak. During Darren's travels, Steve has amassed an army of humans and vampaneze and is now sending them to harm Darren's friends and family, including a nephew Darren never knew he had. No one but Steve can kill Darren, but Steve is determined to make winning the war as difficult as possible for Darren and his comrades. Even after eleven books (of twelve planned), this series still has great momentum. The gory, heart-pounding action sequences-a staple of this series-do not deflect from Darren's personal growth. Darren falls in love and experiences some very painful losses, but readers who pick up the books for the blood and guts will not feel dragged down by the human or vampire relationships. There is one very disturbing murder near the end of the book, but it is a necessary plot point to fully determine that there is no hope of redemption for Steve. Fans of the series will anxiously await the final volume. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Little Brown, 220p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Carlisle Kraft Webber