(Cirque Du Freak, #4)

Darren Shan and Mr. Crepsley embark on a dangerous trek to the very heart of the vampire world. But they face more than the cold on Vampire Mountain-the vampaneze have been there before them.
Will a meeting with the Vampire Princes restore Darren's human side, or turn him further toward the darkness? Only one thing is certain-Darren's initiation into the vampire clan is more deadly than he can ever have imagined.

After flying through the first three books, which were addicting, I had a couple others purchased, but not this one. Since it’s inconceivable to read a series like this out of order, I waited awhile until I could own all to continue it. They’re really that addicting.

Unfortunately this fourth was a small dive down. I’m crushed at first that after taking a break from the series, when I come back they’re immediately leaving the freak show and finding new paths. Change is inevitable, but I’d associated this series thus far with the performers, adventures there, and Darren finding himself among the crew. Now it was a sudden shift as they ventured to Vampire Mountain to meet the princes. Apparently making a kid into a half-vampire is a big no-no, and Crepsley has some explaining to do.

The journey to the mountains was relatively interesting. They leave behind other characters I’d grown to enjoy, and Darren himself is different as several years have now passed (hate when authors jump time like that) and he is now more comfortable in how own skin. While some regulars were taken away, new friends are met on the journey, and then there were plenty of new faces in the vampire mountain itself.

Darren is a likeable sort still, but Crepsley fell back more into a background, ordinary character territory. I liked some of the new characters, but most were irritants, especially the female vampire Arra.

I was annoyed by some of the strictness and their ways, but obviously this was the world Shan created for the story. (I can’t help it – issues with authority and silly blind leadership here.) The mountain idea is a childlike whim that worked, although of course the childlike names are a hokey curse for the series.

Besides a few fight scenes, there isn’t much of an overarching conflict, so there’s no draw pulling me in as much as the other books. Since Darren is more sure of himself, there isn’t as much internal conflict either. This hurt the pacing a bit.

On the good side of things, we learn more about the vampires, vampineze, the world that’s been built around them, their politics (sometimes annoying), and a darker, older reality Darren has walked into.

Not a bad book, but one of the weaker ones and feels like a filler. Still, it must be read in the series to know how he got to where he did by book five. I was irritated at the end with the trial pronouncement, however, for it made the prince’s council and rules even more irritating.

   Book Quotes:

“Life is a challenge" he once told me, "and only those who rise to the challenge truly know what it means to live.” 

“Students never appreciate their teachers while they are learning. It is only later, when they know more of the world, that they understand how indebted they are to those who instructed them. Good teachers expect no praise or love from the young. They wait for it, and in time, it comes.” 

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