Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Vampire's Assistant by Darren Shan (Saga of Darren Shan, #2) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Even though I hate it,
I'll have to drink blood to survive.
If I don't,
Mr Crepsley says I'll die...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 169
Chapters: 34 (Plus an introduction.)
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Ready for another glowing review, folks? 

The Vampire's Assistant follows up its predecessor perfectly. Cirque Du Freak is the setup, for both the story and characters; this entry, is the adjustment. I've always admired authors who can write such a long series and keep things fresh and interesting, and that's how I feel about The Saga of Darren Shan. The books are fast-paced, but each entry manages to give a fantastic, singular story, while sowing the seeds for the inevitable 'big plot'.

I'm excited to be on this journey, and with each instalment, my love of the writing craft and creation of stories only grows.


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

Darren Shan is half-vampire, half-human, and he's not best pleased with it.
He loves the perks: enhanced strength and speed, vampiric senses.
But the cons outweigh the pros.
He's lost his family, and unless he drinks the blood of humans - a necessity he refuses to be part of - he'll die.
Mr Crepsley, Darren's vampire guardian, takes him to the Cirque Du Freak in an attempt to restore some of his hope.
But just as things take a turn for the better, Darren's life is thrown another curve ball...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

The Vampire's Assistant is very character-centric, but it still focuses on a decent story. After the first instalment I didn't waste any time in throwing myself into the next. In Mr Shan's other series, The Demonata, I thirsted for the world's - or should I say worlds' - mythology, what made it tick, its limits and how everything worked so well to create such a spectacular story. 

Well, that thirst has returned.

I want to know everything, to the point I'm practically insatiable. Vampires are good? In a manner of speaking, anyway. What are their powers? What are their lives like? What kind of creatures and magic inhabits this world? You might be thinking, isn't that the same way I feel about every book I read? And you'd be right, it is, but the skill with which Mr Shan plays with these aspects is uncanny. There are no lulls in your attention while reading.

And the themes are essential: Family, fear, acceptance, bravery. Whether you're an adult or child, there's always an important message, or morbidly uplifting theme, woven into the plot.

Pace - 5/5 Stars


Fast-paced, action-packed, lighting-quick writing.

Just the way I like 'em.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

This is where the real meat of The Vampire's Assistant is. It's driven by its cast of diverse and shocking characters. We get a better sense of who everyone is, their motivations, hopes and dreams. And while the main story races along, it's the people in it that make you feel involved. Darren's - book-Darren, not real Darren, although this series is based on true events... - talking directly to the reader, and while he's not exactly getting to know us, we're getting to know him in a way that makes us feel like family.

Thankfully without the danger, because there's a lot of that.

Darren's struggling to adapt to the new and crazy world he's been pushed into. His morality weighs heavy, but not as heavy as his lonely heart. Although, he's not all doom and gloom, his cheeky curiosity leads to some hilarious moments. He's smart, with a dumb streak, the perfect recipe for a great main character, and hero.

Surrounding Darren are some awesome individuals. There's no dead weight. From the mysterious, but often tender Mr Crepsley, to the eccentric, but kind Mr Tall, I am in love. There's not one person I'm not invested in. Returning characters are built upon, while new ones are introduced.

Like Mr Tiny, who's delightfully quirky, but subtly sadistic.

The feeling of family within The Vampire's Assistant is palpable. Sometimes those you love and defend aren't always related by blood. Family, can be a choice.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

I'm pretty much just going to repeat what I said in my review for the first book.

Aimed at young adults, and its writing reflects that. It could be jarring for some adults, but the unease passes quickly, and you focus on other things: The stellar structure that keeps you entertained the entire way through; the dark humour that ensures there's no monotony.

Apart from that, you're all good.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

A great entry to the series that does wonders for its characters and mythology. The 'big plot' is bubbling under the surface, still a mystery, but with the introduction of Mr Tiny - or Mr Destiny to his friends - spells future trouble.

Roll on book 3!

Previous Instalment: Cirque Du Freak
Next Instalment: Tunnels of Blood 

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