Darren Shan, author of the popular Cirque Du Freak vampire series, is set to release Book Nine of his equally impressive Demonata saga, Dark Calling, this summer. Since I’ve recently fallen into the Darren Shan phenomenon (thanks Michelle) and in honor of young readers who are eagerly awaiting his newest work, I will review each book of the demon series in quick succession (with a sidestep to his other works as well).
Grubbs Grady, hero of The Demonata Book One: Lord Loss, finds that he has been having some issues sleeping of late. Maybe it’s the uneasy feelings and gruesome memories regarding the violent deaths of his family at the hands of hell’s minions, or perhaps it’s the nightmares stemming from his most recent encounter and horrific chess match with the demon master, Lord Loss. It could also be the fact that his Uncle Dervish consistently tries to kill him in his sleep.
Not, of course, that this is Dervish’s fault; he spent over a year “zombified” in the real world as he battled for his very soul against Lord Loss in the demonic dimension, Demonata. When Dervish finally awakens, the unspeakable traumas that he experienced while battling the demon master have left him scarred and behaviorally modified. So when acclaimed horror producer “David A. Haym” (Davida Haym) offers Dervish a job to consult on a secretive movie about demons, it provides an opportunity for Dervish, Grubbs, and his half-brother Bill-E Spleen to travel to the self-contained film-set, Slawter, and forget about the personal demons plaguing each of them.
Things get a little strange while on the set, however. People begin disappearing, and Grubbs must convince his distracted uncle that there may really be demons in Slawter. Shan has written a coming-of-age story for Grubbs, who is more resourceful due to his unwelcome previous experiences with the demonic. He has learned to tap into the powers surrounding the demons (so he thinks at the time) and is able to give a magical butt-kicking of his own.
Shan’s strengths in this series continue to be depth of character and pacing. Shan is a gifted writer who jumps into the plot at a sinister speed. It’s evident that the author enjoys what he does, and never “talks down” to the younger readers the series targets; indeed, he takes a seemingly mischievous pleasure in finding new and intelligent ways to gross them out. The gore, however, is only part of the fun. The parental messages of resilience, strength, self-confidence, and love bleed through the series thus far.
The Demonata Book Three: Slawter is another one to throw on your kid’s summer reading list. Or, to throw up on…it’s probably all the same to Shan.