The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak Series #2)

The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak Series #2)

4.5 308
by Darren Shan

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Darren Shan was just an ordinary schoolboy until his visit to the Cirque Du Freak. Now, as he struggles with his new life as a Vampire's Assistant, he tries desperately to resist the one temptation that sickens him, the one thing that can keep him alive. But destiny is calling. The Wolf Man is waiting.See more details below


Darren Shan was just an ordinary schoolboy until his visit to the Cirque Du Freak. Now, as he struggles with his new life as a Vampire's Assistant, he tries desperately to resist the one temptation that sickens him, the one thing that can keep him alive. But destiny is calling. The Wolf Man is waiting.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In The Vampire's Assistant, the second installment of the series begun with Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan, the hero returns to the old-fashioned freak show where, thanks to Mr. Crespley, he became a "half-vampire." Darren once again struggles against the urge to feed upon the human blood his health requires. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this horror novel, the author and protagonist share the same name—Darren Shan. With that crafty twist, the action gets underway fast and furiously. Young Darren is a half-vampire, torn between the worlds of the living and the dead. Though attached to Mr. Crepsley, who made him a vampire, Darren cannot bring himself to partake of human flesh. Quickly he is learning that vampires do not live on animal blood alone. Driven by loneliness, Darren and Mr. Crepsley hook up with the Cirque Du Freak, a freak show circus that features a snake boy, a bearded lady, and Cormac Limbs, a man who can grow arms, legs and fingers as fast as you can chop them off. Darren finds friendship in the snake boy, Evra, and in Sam, a local boy who longs to join the freak show. But an overzealous animal rights advocate is determined to set free the insanely violent wolf-man, and we know that a gory, bloody climax is just around the bend. Shan is uncannily skillful in sucking readers into his macabre world. Against all reason, we really do get the sense that this is real. With this book, the second in Shan's creepy "Cirque Du Freak" series, it won't take long to gain a faithful following. 2001, Little Brown, $15.95. Ages 12 to 16. Reviewer: Christopher Moning
This second installment in the Cirque du Freak saga of Darren Shan picks up soon after Darren has been turned into a half-vampire by his master, Mr. Crepsley. Darren is sworn to a life of servitude to Crepsley. He must drink blood to survive now. He steadfastly refuses, however, to drink the blood of humans despite Crepsley's warning that he will die without it. Darren must cling to that part of himself that is still human. Drinking human blood, he fears, will erase all traces of the boy he used to be. Crepsley and Darren rejoin Cirque du Freak. There Darren makes two new friends: Evra, the snake boy, and a local boy named Sam. At first, life back at the freak show is a happy one for Darren. An unfortunate set of circumstances, though, causes the death of one of Darren's friends and an irrevocable change in him. Readers again will be drawn to this story of a young boy trying to find friendship and family despite his unusual circumstances. The novel provides the requisite chills and suspense and ends with a teaser from book three, Tunnels of Blood. Middle school and junior high students might enjoy this novel as a read-aloud. Fans of the genre will definitely enjoy meeting Darren again after reading A Living Nightmare (Little Brown, 2001/VOYA April 2001). Moreover, this book stands on its own, offering readers enough background of Darren's past to appreciate fully the story. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Little Brown, 224p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Teri S. Lesesne
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-After a breezy two-page introduction that gives the major plot points of Cirque du Freak, readers are plunged back into the world of a young, newly minted half-vampire (a concept that is never fully explained). With his mentor, the creepy full vampire Mr. Crepsley, Darren is learning the ropes of the undead. Readers quickly get a rundown of the facts, the most important one being that vampires, even half ones, must have human blood to survive, and Darren can't bring himself to drink. There is not much plot here. He and Mr. Crepsley return to the Cirque du Freak. Darren and Evra, a snake-boy, make what is ultimately a tragic friendship with a local boy named Sam and a self-proclaimed "ecowarrior" named R.V. It is R.V. who precipitates the real action as he becomes suspicious of animals disappearing from nearby farms. The first-person narration seems superficial, and there is little depth to Darren's character. That said, Shan creates heart-pounding, page-turning action that will keep kids reading. He certainly knows his horror, and this book cranks up the gore factor a notch or two. Readers will get more information about the genuinely weird denizens of the Cirque du Freak. There are some genuinely horrific, almost painful moments, particularly at the book's tragic climax. Readers will be turning from the page, sickened, and then come back to find out what happens next. The question remains, where can Shan take his readers from here? Just how far will he go?-Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix, AZ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The sequel to Shan's successful horror debut (not reviewed) is another guilty pleasure. Shan, the author/narrator of this putative true account, is now a "half-vampire" and the assistant to the well-meaning vampire Mr. Crepsley. Since he refuses to drink human blood, Darren is slowly dying. After exiling himself from his family and friends, he is also lonely; so he and Mr. Crepsley return to the freak show where they met. There he bonds with Evra, the reptilian snake-handler, and Sam, a precocious human boy. Unfortunately, he also gets involved with R.V., a stereotypical unwashed hippie eco-warrior, who decides to make his next cause freeing the show's animal acts. Shan won't win any literary awards for this one-Darren's voice is stilted and unconvincing, suspense is created by contrived cliffhangers, ominous foreshadowing keeps falling from the sky like anvils, and the plot is gutted by elementary scientific blunders (such as repeated references to the python's "poison"). Once Darren becomes a freak-show insider, the eerie creepiness is not so easily maintained; but Shan more than makes up for that by ladling out great glops of macabre grotesquerie: a snake-boy who can lick the inside of his own nose! Mute misshapen dwarfs who feast on human flesh! The circus performer who saws off his own limbs! Gross-out horror fans will devour it and clamor for the next in the series. (Fiction. 10-14) $250,000 ad/promo

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Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Cirque Du Freak Series, #2
Edition description:
1ST U.S. P
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Darren Shan is the New York Times bestselling author of Cirque Du Freak and The Demonata, whose novels have sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Darren lives in Ireland, where he writes and collects art, comics, and film.

Read an Excerpt

Cirque Du Freak

The Vampire's Assistat
By Darren Shan

Thorndike Press

Copyright © 2001 Darren Shan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0786237341

Chapter One

It was a dry, warm night, and Stanley Collins had decided to walk home after the Boy Scouts meeting. It wasn't a very long walk -- less than a mile -- and though the night was dark, he knew every step of the way as surely as he knew how to tie a reef knot.

Stanley was a scoutmaster. He loved the Scouts. He'd been one when he was a boy and kept in contact when he grew up. He'd turned his own three sons into first-rate Scouts, and now that they'd grown up and left home, he was helping the local kids.

Stanley walked quickly to keep warm. He was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and even though it was a nice night, his arms and legs were soon covered in goosebumps. He didn't mind. His wife would have a delicious cup of hot chocolate and cookies waiting for him when he got home. He'd enjoy them all the more after a good, brisk walk.

Trees grew along both sides of the road home, making it very dark and dangerous for anyone who wasn't used to it. But Stanley had no fears. On the contrary, he loved the night. He enjoyed listening to the sound of his feet crunching through the grass and briars.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

He smiled. When his sons were young, he'd often pretended there were monsters lying in wait up in the trees as they walked home. He'd make scary noises and shake the leaves of low-hanging branches when the boys weren't looking. Sometimes they'd burst into screams and run for home at top speed, and Stanley would follow after them, laughing.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Sometimes, if he was having trouble getting to sleep at night, he would imagine the sounds of his feet as they made their way home, and that always helped him drift off into a happy dream.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

It was the nicest sound in the world, as far as Stanley was concerned. It was a great feeling, to know you were all alone and safe as can be.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.


Stanley stopped and frowned. That had sounded like a stick breaking -- but how could it have been? He would have felt it if he'd stepped on a twig. And there were no cows or sheep in the nearby fields.

He stood still for about half a minute, listening curiously. When there were no more sounds, he shook his head and smiled. It had been his imagination playing tricks on him, that was all. He'd tell the wife about it when he got home and they'd have a good old laugh.

He started walking again.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

There. Back to the familiar sounds. There was nobody else around. He would have heard more than a single branch snapping if there was. Nobody could creep up on Stanley J. Collins. He was a trained scoutmaster. His ears were as sharp as a fox's.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Cru --


Stanley stopped again and, for the first time, the fingers of fear began to squeeze around his beating heart.

That hadn't been his imagination. He'd heard it, clear as a bell. A twig snapping, somewhere overhead. And before it snapped -- had there been the slightest rustling sound, like something moving?

Stanley gazed up at the trees but it was too dark to see. There could have been a monster the size of a car up there and he wouldn't have been able to spot it. Ten monsters! A hundred! A thou--

Oh, that was silly. There were no monsters in the trees. Monsters didn't exist. Everyone knew that. Monsters weren't real. It was a squirrel or an owl up there, something ordinary like that.

Stanley raised a foot and began to bring it down.


His foot hung in the air, midstep, and his heart pounded quickly. That was no squirrel! The sound was too sharp. Something big was up there. Something that shouldn't be up there. Something that had never been up there before. Something that --


The sound was closer this time, lower down, and suddenly Stanley could stand it no longer.

He began to run.

Stanley was a large man, but pretty fit for his age. Still, it had been a long time since he'd run this fast, and after a hundred yards he was out of breath and had a cramp in his side.

He slowed to a halt and bent over, gasping for air.


His head shot up.

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

There were footsteps coming toward him! Slow, heavy footsteps. Stanley listened, terrified, as they came closer and closer. Had the monster leaped ahead of him through the trees? Had it climbed down? Was it coming to finish him off? Was it...?

Crunch. Crunch.

The footsteps stopped and Stanley was able to make out a figure in the darkness. It was smaller than he'd expected, no bigger than a boy. He took a deep breath, straightened up, got his courage up, and stepped forward for a better look.

It was only a boy! A small, frightened-looking boy, dressed in a dirty suit.

Stanley smiled and shook his head. What a fool he'd been! The wife would have a field day when he told her about this.

"Are you okay, son?" Stanley asked him.

The boy didn't answer.

Stanley didn't recognize the youngster, but there were a lot of new families around these days. He no longer knew every child in the neighborhood.

"Can I help you?" he asked. "Are you lost?"

The boy shook his head slowly. There was something strange about him. Something that suddenly made Stanley feel uneasy. It might have been the effect of the darkness and the shadows...but the boy looked very pale, very thin, very...hungry.

"Are you all right?" Stanley asked again, stepping closer. "Can I--"


The sound came from directly overhead, loud and menacing. The boy leaped back quickly, out of the way.

Stanley just had time to glance up and see a huge red shape, which might have been some sort of bat, falling through the branches of the trees, almost faster than his eyes could follow.

And then the red thing was on him. Stanley opened his mouth to scream, but before he could, the monster's hands -- claws? -- clamped over his mouth. There was a brief struggle, then Stanley was sliding onto the ground, unconscious, unseeing, unknowing.

Above him, the two creatures of the night moved in for the feed.


Excerpted from Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan Copyright © 2001 by Darren Shan.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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