Horror October: Spotlight & Review – Darren Shan

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It’s pretty hard being a Darren Shan fan. His career may have been shorter by some years, but he gives Stephen King a run for his money in the amount of books he churns out. ‘Master of Horror,’ Shan has released over 30 books since 2002 (from 2 – 6 books a year). Woah.

I first noticed Shan in the midst of his break-out vampire series for children, The Saga of Darren Shan. Being a huge fan of the Vampire genre and studying Children’s Literature at the time led me to check it out, and I realised then that Shan had actually gone to same university as me which gave me hope for my own chances of making it as a writer. (Still working on that one!)

Even though The Saga of Darren Shan was clearly aimed at 12 year old boys, I really enjoyed it. He’s not afraid to use violence and gore and most of all they were a new, fun take on the Vampire myth.

But I didn’t completely fall in love until I read Procession of the Dead, Shan first book -and the first in the City Trilogy – aimed at adults.

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Procession of the Dead is a dark and twisted, gritty urban fantasy and one of my favourite books of all time. (Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the other two quite as much – still worth a read though!)

Young, quick-witted, and cocksure, Capac Raimi arrives in the City determined to make his mark in a world of sweet, sinister sin. He finds the City is a place of exotic dangers: a legendary assassin with snakes tattooed on his face who moves like smoke, blind Incan priests whom no one seems to see, a kingpin who plays with puppets, and friends who mysteriously disappear as though they never existed. Then Capac crosses paths with The Cardinal, and his life changes forever.
The Cardinal is the City, and the City is The Cardinal. They are joined at the soul. Nothing moves on the streets, or below them, without The Cardinal’s knowledge. His rule is absolute.
When Capac discovers how deeply The Cardinal has influenced his life, he is faced with hard choices that conflict with his soaring ambition. To find his way, Capac must know himself and what he is capable of. But how can you trust yourself when you can’t remember your past?

Since then, Shan has released one other adult book, Lady of the Shades (which I loved) but has mainly returned to his Kids’ series.

His latest offering is the 12 book series Zom-B, about a Zombie outbreak in Ireland where B Smith is learning to deal with a racist dad as well as a whole lot of zombies. The fifth installment, Zom-B Baby has just been released, only a year after the first book was.

I’ve just finished Zom-B Underground (Zom-B #2). Can’t keep up, yeah.

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Waking up in a military complex, months after zombies attacked school, B has no memory of the last few months. Life in the UK has turned tough since the outbreak, and B is woven into life- and battle- in the new military regime quickly. But as B learns more about the zombies held in the complex and the scientists keeping them captive, unease settles in. Why exactly was B saved? And is there anyone left in the world to trust?

I’m sure I would have loved these books if I’d read them when I was 13, as opposed to 30 (almost- ahhhh!) but they just don’t have enough substance to them to keep me wanting more these days. I liked the end of Zom-B #1 as it had a pretty good twist which is why I picked this one up too, but I don’t think I’ll be carrying on with the series.

There are definitely things to like here such as good action/violence which I’m sure will be a hit with younger audiences, and the turmoil B faces in trying to peel away the racist traits that have seeped into her from her father. But they are just too short. I feel like this whole series of 12 books should actually just be a trilogy or something, instead of these little snippets of stories.

So I think I’ll leave these to the kids and wait patiently for another adult offering from Darren Shan, Master of Horror.

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6 thoughts on “Horror October: Spotlight & Review – Darren Shan

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    • I’m not sure. I’m trying to think back to being 12 and wonder if I would have enjoyed them. I definitely would have liked them for the gore and the action, and probably would have felt like I was pushing boundaries in reading a ‘horror’ book but I still think they need more. I love Darren Shan so I don’t want to slag him off, but it is kind of like he’s split the series into so many books for maximum profit. At £12 a piece (for the hardbacks), 12 books per series…it’s a bit much! Oooh here endeth the rant. 🙂

      • Breaking it up to maximise profits was exactly the thought in my mind, which is why I asked. That would be bad enough if these were self-pb .99 each. But at those hardback prices?

        Wow.

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