Born in London in 1972, Darren O'Shaughnessy [writing as Darren Shan] moved to Limerick with his parents and younger brother. Returned to London to study Sociology and English then worked for a TV cable company. His first adult novel Ayuamarca has been published by Orion and his writing has been likened to Clive Barker and Iain Banks. He is now a full-time writer of TV scripts and novels. Cirque du Freak is his first title for children.
Shan's 'true story of his bizarre life begins in this first title in a series of what promise to be chilling reads. Darren and friend Steve sneak off to an illegal freak show in the middle of the night and encounter such delights as Rhamus Twobellies and a savage wolfman. This is captivating insider stuff for pre-teens, and tension mounts as Darren steals Madame Octa, the deadly performing spider belonging to vampire Mr Crepsley. Things spiral out of control for Darren as Madame Octa attacks Steve, leaving him paralysed. Mr Crepsley makes Darren a terrifying offer: he will save Steve's life, but only if Darren agrees to leave everything behind and become an assistant vampire. Cirque Du Freak is a truly twisted tale, a strange mix of hammy gothic horror and emotional realism, and the feeling of being let in on the dark truth about a secret world keeps you turning the pages. It is a stylish book that deserves to be devoured. The children I tested it out on were better than scared: they were fascinated, and listened with rapt attention. (Kirkus UK)