A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the author claims in the introduction to Cirque Du Freak, the first of the 12-part Saga of Darren Shan series featuring circus freaks and vampires, that this is a true story, which some young readers may find confusing. The 2009 movie The Vampire's Assistant is based on the first three. As you'd expect from any vampire series, there's violence, and some characters die, but things only get gory at the end of each book. Most notably violent moments are when limbs are bitten off and characters lose their stomachs to attacks. By the third installment, a crazed creature is on the loose killing indiscriminately.
What's the story?
Darren's best friend, Steve, finds a flier for an illegal freak show, which they sneak out one night to attend. Among acts such as a wolf-man (who bites off the hand of a woman in the audience) and a snake-boy, they see the vampire Mr. Crepsley and his trained poisonous spider. Darren is smitten with the spider and returns to steal her. When Steve is bitten by her, only Mr. Crepsley has an antidote to her poison. But there's a price, and Darren becomes a half vampire, learning the vampire ways, sometimes following the Cirque, and other times joining Mr. Crepsley on secret errands.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why these books are appealing. Does the violence disturb you? Do you enjoy the fantasy?
What do you think about this take on the vampire legend? What's different from other books you've read or movies you've seen?
What do you think about Darren's struggle to avoid human blood?
Where do you think the "little people" came from?
For kids who love vampires and horror
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