Monday, March 15, 2010

Cirque Du Freak Volume 3: Tunnels of Blood by Darren Shan and Takahiro Arai

It's been a year since the events in "The Vampire's Assistant", and Darren has learned to live the life of a Vampire and has come to terms with drinking blood.

He, Crepsley and Evra Von have travelled to a small town far from where they met Sam. Travelling with them is "Lefty", one of Mr. Tiny's little people, distinguished from the rest by a limp in his left leg. But as they travel, a hulking man appears from behind and threatens Larten Crepsley's life. Crepsley knows the man, Gavner Purl, one of the previously-mentioned Vampire Generals.

Gavner and Crepsley go off to have a talk, and Darren, who is usually Crepsley's helper, must go on and do the performance with Madame Octa by himself. So, of course, he needs something more interesting than the sober suit that was his burial clothing, and he gets a new outfit from Truska, one of the dancing girls who doesn't speak English, but appears to understand it just fine.

He does well, and after his performance, Gavner appears to ask to speak with Darren. He tells Darren that he shouldn't have been made a vampire- children can't be expected to know how to be vampires, or react well to being turned. The vampires are talking about banning turning children- but Gavner tells Darren to trust crepsley- he was a Vampire General himself once, and almost became a vampire Prince, a leader of Vampires, a position only offered to the most noble among them. With that last bit of advice, he leaves.

Crepsley is leaving, too, and he wants to take Darren with him. But Darren doesn't want to leave- his friends are here. Crepsley sighs and says that they can take Evra with them- if Evra wants to come- it will be up to Darren to convince him. Evra does agree, and for him, it will be like an extended Vacation. But unlike before, Crepsley won't be flitting- they'll be travelling on buses, trains and cabs.

They travel to a big city, which irritates Darren at first because of his newly enhanced Vampire senses- the smells, sounds and textures nearly drive him insane- and it takes him about a week to adjust.

Meanwhile, Christmas is coming, and the city is getting ready for it. Darren and Evra split up to go shopping- Darren has money from Crepsley, and with as much of it as he has, he can buy almost anything. He meets a girl when he goes shopping, Debbie Hemlock, who has lost her gloves and needs to shop for a new pair. She asks him what he is doing, and since Darren is going shopping himself, they agree to go shopping together. When he opens a door for her, she makes him blush, telling him that he's so chivalrous, people will think he's interested in her as a girlfriend.

With Debbie's help, he finds the perfect gift for Evra- a CD player and CD of the band he likes. Debbie needs to get home, and Darren says he'll walk her. She manipulates him into asking her to go out to the movies, but Darren can't really complain. The next day, Darren is anxious about the date- not wanting to admit it's a date, but slipping up and saying, yes, it's a date.

He also gets a chance to see Mr. Crepsley, who hasn't been around much, but he seems preoccupied and has to go out again right away, even though he's just come in. Darren goes on his date, and has a good time, though he's not impressed by the film "Vampire Babies" as much as Debbie is.

He has dinner with her family, who are just as nice as she is, and afterwards spends time with her in her room. When it's time to go, she offers him a kiss, but he's too freaked to take her up on it. Then, after leaving the house, he changes his mind and climbs up to give her a kiss.

Back at the hotel, Evra looks unusually solemn, and asks Darren if he's seen the news. Six bodies have been found, completely drained of blood. Darren is shocked. He knows he's not to blame. And if it's not him, could it be... Mr. Crepsley behind the killings?

Suddenly, Crepsley's strange disppearances and preoccupation seem wrong to Darren. Could it be because Crepsley has been preying on humans in the city, or is there another reason for the sudden abundance of bodies drained of blood? With the help of Evra, Darren sets a watch on Crepsley, trying to find out what he is doing and where he is going so much of the day.

But when Evra and Debbie get drawn into the growing horror, can Darren save them all from a blood-obsessed Vampire who won't stop killing humans until he, himself, is killed? For the Vampire he's up against is canny and tricky, and considers Darren a tasty snack. Can Darren outwit him and save the day?

Another excellent story in the Cirque du Freak universe. Here, Darren is presented with a mystery that he must solve to save the life of both Debbie and Evra, two people he considers his friends. In the process, we find out more about Vampire society and the great divide between the Vampires, who once were one.

Darren distinguishes himself in battle against his opponent, because even though Crepsley is older and more experienced, it's Darren's youth and energy, not to mention wits and cunning, that win the day.

In the process, we discover that, youth or not, Darren really is meant to be a vampire. He can handle the powers, and the transformation, and even better, he's the kind of person that the Vampires need on their side. And the kind they want, naturally. Recommended.

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