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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan (Saga of Darren Shan, #3) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

When they start finding the corpses,
drained of blood,
I can't help fearing the worst...

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Edition: Paperback
Pages: 162
Chapters: 26 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Tunnels of Blood: My favourite of the series so far. You feel at home with everything now: the story and its world; the characters and their struggles. It's just another day in The Saga of Darren Shan. Which is to say, it's another day of murder, mayhem and mystery. The whole of this entry builds and coalesces into an adrenaline-pumped conclusion. There are twists, some of which are predictable, but they're wholly satisfying. Mr Shan does a great job of injecting everything with a dose of doubt: Will The Master of Horror rob our cast of their happy ending?

Probably. But you're just gonna have to read the book to find out...

SPOILER WARNING - Not 100% sure, but we're three books in, and SPOILERS for the previous instalments could hamper your enjoyment. Yes, I do think of you fellow readers.)

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Darren's slowly adjusting to life as a vampire's assistant.
He's milking the pros for all their worth, and doing his best to ignore the cons.
There's even a holiday on the horizon.
As Darren, Mr Crepsley and Evra take leave from the Cirque and venture into a city, Darren and Evra are determined to enjoy their break.
That is, until bodies, drained of blood, turn up.
And Mr Crepsley's been acting strangely...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Tunnels of Blood is thrilling. I said in my review of The Vampire's Assistant that book 1 is the setup, and book 2 is the adjustment, for both the reader and the characters of the story. Entry 3 is very much acceptance. We've adapted to the world, and Darren, as our eyes, has adapted too. So while Tunnels of Blood is the third in the series, it feels like a new beginning. We go in ready, willing and able to start the ferocious journey it promises us.

And it delivers.

The Prologue is proof. Essentially, Prologue = BOOM! The first two pages have you salivating at the ambiguity. And, of course, when you reach Chapter One, eager to find out what the hell is going on, Mr Shan gives us: One Month Earlier...

WHAT!?

Yeah, well, I didn't want to know what was happening anyway...

There's also some great world building. We learn more about vampires as a species, their laws and politics, and how the different kinds of vampires - the vampaneze being introduced - exist together. It's fascinating, and doesn't overload the story.

There are also some nice moments along the way that remind us that this is a horror series. A shocking moment that's stayed with me upon completion is a subtle, chilling and effective reminder. While hunting for food, Darren surprises and snaps the neck of a cat. I know, you're probably laughing and thinking: So?

It surprised me. It's a simple scene, but there are plenty more that reinforce how dark the world can be.

There's hope as well, but if I tempt you guys in with the dark side, the good stuff will be the icing.

Overall, the plot doesn't lose steam and charges ahead at full speed.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

I feel that when I talk about the pace - and writing - for this series, I'm probably just going to rehash what I've said before.

Tunnels of Blood, like its predecessors, is fast-paced, full of action and just completely hooking. There's no hiccups, no dull bits, nothing that'll stop you finishing the book in one sitting.

The pace is excellent.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Darren's a vastly different character to the one he started out as. He's come to accept his new life, and at times, prosper from it. There's peace in him that, naturally, is going to be shaken up. But for the most part he's stronger, more willing to face the darkness around him. He's a decent person, with a stout moral compass and loyalty that's unbreakable. 

Mr Crepsley and Evra spend a little time in the spotlight as well. With the introduction of a lone, mad vampaneze - which are vampires that are your drain-humans-dry type - we get to see decent development. The 'big bad' is written perfectly; he's both absolutely psychotic and terrifyingly intelligent.

Darren and Mr Crepley's father-son relationship also grows. It's quickly becoming a highlight. I love how they interact, with an obvious disgust for one another, but a loyalty that's not unlike familial love. It's chilling, sweet, funny, all at the same time.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

By now, we're used to the writing, which is aimed more towards young adults than to adults. But it's not to the point of unreadability. Eventually, you just don't notice. The story and characters keep you busy, and the pace helps with its rapidity. 

In other words, this is very much a series for the older generations, as much as it is for the younger.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

Tunnels of Blood edges out to be my favourite of the series so far. It manages to balance a well-paced overarching plot, with intriguing and character-centric subplots. The world just keeps getting more layered as the books progress, and I'm excited to see how that contributes to whatever 'big plot' is bubbling under the surface.


Previous Instalment: The Vampire's Assistant
Next Instalment: Vampire Mountain


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