AudioBook Review: A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan

I decided to listen to A Living Nightmare because the whole series is available as audiobooks from the library and I was really hoping to pick up a new series that I could fall in love with. While an entertaining frolic about a freak circus and vampires, I didn’t realize that A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan, read by Ralph Lister was about a 12 year old. Yet again, another series geared towards a younger audience than I was anticipating. But I gave it a shot because the story line was interesting and I did enjoy listening as Darren Shan (yes, it is supposedly a “true story”) recounts a living nightmare.

Cover of A Living Nightmare

Summary from Audiobooks.com:

In the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, New York Times bestseller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human / half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers—Mr. Crepsley—is a vampire!

Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishes—but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.

While I wish I had read the synopsis online before starting this book, I did end up enjoying the book to a degree. And unlike Salem’s Lot, which I have yet to finish because it puts me to sleep so well, I found the story fast paced enough to stay engaged.

I enjoyed that Darren had to deal with the consequences of his decisions to sneak or one night and see a freak show and then steal something he read incapable of handling. I suffered a lot of anxiety for Darren and I do wish the author had made him a little older. It’s a tad frightening the aftermath of his rebellion. I don’t think he handled things well because he was so young and I prefer to see role models than immature kids when I read young adult series. But since this is a series, I will assume Darren does some maturing eventually. I’m not sure I’ll stick with the series to see that though.

The voice acting was good. It probably was what kept me engaged enough to finish the book. So kudos to Ralph Lister.

A decent children’s book with mature themes, A Living Nightmare Cirque de Freak will be interesting to those who enjoy slow build ups, bad decisions by the main character, and frightening vampires.

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