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Cirque Du Freak (Cirque du Freak #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  42,644 Ratings  ·  2,903 Reviews
Darren Shan is just an ordinary schoolboy - until he gets an invitation to visit the Cirque du Freak...until he meets Madam Octa...until he comes face to face with a creature of the night.

Soon, Darren and his friend Steve are caught in a deadly trap. Darren must make a bargain with the one person who can save Steve. But that person is not human and only deals in blood...
Paperback, 180 pages
Published 2007 by HarperCollins publishers (first published 2000)
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Breanna It depends on the edition you have. Some say it's "A Living Nightmare" in the "Cirque du Freak" series. My edition says it's the Cirque du Freak: A…moreIt depends on the edition you have. Some say it's "A Living Nightmare" in the "Cirque du Freak" series. My edition says it's the Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare" in "The Darren Shan Saga".(less)
Terry I have just finished book 1 and you could stop there, it does not end halfway through an event. I will be reading another of the series as I really…moreI have just finished book 1 and you could stop there, it does not end halfway through an event. I will be reading another of the series as I really enjoyed it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shannon (formerly The Holy Terror)
This is an older series and many of you may have read it years ago or already decided it wasn't for you, but maybe my review will sway you into giving it a chance (or just make you remember how much you loved it.)

Here's my take on things:

Be prepared for a male author with all male main characters. There's a younger sister character with a small part and I enjoyed the siblings' relationship, but aside from her and a few mothers, this is mostly a series about boys. Did that bother me? Not at all.
Jul 19, 2011 Sita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be one of the best books I have ever read! I used to hate reading I found it a chore. I only read school books. This book changed that normally I'm not normally into horror books but Darren Shan is different he is such a cool and likeable person. I reccomend this book to anyone who likes reading, this book is a great start to a series I loved. I re-read the series all the time. If you read it, then I am 86% sure you will love it.
Mr. Z
After reading this, I couldn't help but laugh. As a reading teacher, I'm always reading books to determine whether or not my students might enjoy reading them, too. However, this school year, several of my students have been recommending books TO ME to read! This is another such recommendation. I have heard from many students how much they enjoy the Cirque Du Freak series, so I decided to give the first book a try. Now, I do I not typically enjoy reading gruesome/spine-tingling horror novels, bu ...more
Easy to read and surprisingly engrossing--I stayed up late to finish it. I see why it's such a popular series!
review by Megsly

*Warning: possible spoilers ahead.*

A few weeks ago, this charming little movie called The Vampire's Assistant came on my television and I, being obsessed with vampires as everyone knows, just had to watch and I was extremely impressed by the originality of the movie so when I unearthed the series, The Saga of Darren Shan, I dove right in.
A Living Nightmare is book one of the The Saga of Darren Shan, otherwise known as Cirque du Freak. It introduces us to Darren Shan, a young boy
Jan 04, 2015 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kids 12 and under

Just a quick fun read. Nothing complicated, nothing fancy. Perfect book for tweens and young teens.

To read my review of the other books in this series, use the links below:

Book Two: The Vampire's Assistant
Book Three: Tunnels of Blood
Book Four: Vampire Mountain
Book Five: Trials of Death
Book Six: The Vampire Prince
Book Seven: Hunters of the Dusk

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Nov 16, 2008 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Younger vampire story readers and older ones who enjoy kid's books
Warning: I am keeping this review on the vague side because Shan's books are more fun if you don't know what's going on before you read them.

Well, this was a very interesting book. I didn't really like the idea of the freak show, but I did think that it was a novel way to introduce this story, and a different sort of motif for a children's series. I've seen this series at the bookstore for years now, and waffled about reading it. The freak show concept turned me off. I am just not into it, I mu
Dannii Elle
I feel like a few years ago this would have been a five-star read and a new favourite series, but as it is I found the writing style to be a little basic, in places, and the plot to be a little rudimentary and immature. This was, however, a fun read, had an interesting enough storyline and was fast-paced enough to keep me reading until the end. It was also refreshing to read something where romance takes a much-needed back-seat!
Ahmad Sharabiani
دارن شان برای معرفی خویش در نخستین صفحه از داستان میگوید: وقتی بچه بودم خیلی دلم میخواست از چیزی بترسم، از عنکبوت خوشم میآمد، مامان و بابای دارن شان در نه سالگی به او یک رطیل هدیه میدهند، تا نگهداری کند. مینویسد: قصه اش بیشتر شرح یک کابوس است
اما چرا این فراموشکار این کتابها را خواندم، دلم میخواست بدانم بچه هایم چرا این کتابها را میخوانند، چه چیزی در این داستانها توجه آنها را جلب کرده، پس از آنها مجموعه را خواندم، آن هم دوبار، انگار نوجوان شده بودم، هنوز هم کتابهای فانتزی و نوجوانان را دنبال میکن
✍Neyla Kunta ✍
Es war jetzt echt nicht so meins..
Oct 10, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Horror lovers, vampire lovers, thrill lovers.
Ah. Cirque Du Freak. One of my all time favorites. I cant say enough about these books.
Do NOT judge a series by its first book. Sure its good, but you dont realize its AMAZING until a few books in. But all epics are like that, right? And yes. This is an epic. And it is epic. So if you have read the first, liked it but didnt want to read the other ones immediantly, then I say- DO IT!!!
What is it about? Vampires, vampaneze, wolves, freaks, witches, wizards, romance, death, twists, surprises, histo
Will M.
Finished it in one sitting. It had a shallow plot, something obviously meant for children or teens younger than 18.

I have to press the issue again regarding books that really not scary but they are considered as horror. This book didn't scare me at all, but like I said, it was meant for children- young adult, although I have to say anyone who is over 13 wouldn't consider this horror. Not even the part where the "freaks" were described could be considered scary. It had a very predictable plot bu
Jun 04, 2012 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for an easy read, who don't care about details or explanations
I have been looking forward to reading this book for forever. I have read so many great reviews, and it was even endorsed by my favorite author, JK Rowling. I was truly expecting to love every moment of the book. But I was not prepared for the lack of entertainment I found in this book. I am not sorry I read it, just sorry the book didn't live up to my expectations.

This book is about Darren, a boy who seems to have a decent heart - Kind of. He and his friends seem pretty normal for young boys. T
Mar 13, 2008 Manshui rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Freaks
Cirque Du Freak #1: A Living Nightmare
Darren Shan
183 Pages
HaperCollins Publishers
UK £4.99
ISBN: 0-00-675416-3
A Living Nightmare will bring a chilling sensation right after you read the book told by the gruesome-styled author Darren Shan who is also the protagonist of the story. This book one of the series does not only demonstrate the ordinary school boy with a normal life but extended beyond to vampirism and his break of friendship by misunderstandings. The protagonists and the antagonists of t
Tokio Myers
The first Cirque Du Freak book is a nice read that really pumped me up for Halloween. That being said it does have faults one of which is maybe I'm a bit out of the age range for this book. I believe everybody should be able to read children books of all ages and not be judge, but for this series I found myself thinking how I'm not the target audience which makes me feel really old. I found myself rolling my eyes at the dialogue/plot points because it seemed so unrealistic and childish (view spo ...more
Majo's Library.

"El Tenebroso Cirque Du Freak", estrega primera de la saga de Darren Shan.

Este 1er libro de la saga (si no me equivoco, de 12)cuenta la historia de dos chicos (Dareen y Steve) que van a una función de circo "Freak" donde conocen a un personaje vampiro, Mr.Crepsey.

Resulta que de estos dos amigos, uno (Steve) sueña con convertirse algún dia en un verdadero vampiro y el otro (Darren) en cambio, tiene mucho miedo y esa idea jamás se le pasó por la cabeza.

Al descubrir Steve que nunca podría ll
Jan 16, 2012 Vendea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-own, 2017
Re-read 5.5.17: I love it. Forever and always. A ta jedna scéna mě skoro rozbrečela... Stačí jedna nostalgická písnička a už sem se do toho re-readingu musela pustit...

Re-reading mi jen prospěl. Připomněla jsem si ten skvělý styl, jakým byl Darren napsán a pobavila jsem se u hlášek pana Hroozleyho. Díky fobii z pavouků jsem měla trochu nahnáno při některých scénách, ale jinak to byl skvělý rozjezd a už se hodně těším na další díl.
Nov 13, 2008 Yasmin added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yasmin by: Jirokou
This book was so scary, but it was AWESOME! I can't wait to read the next one.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I recommend the audio of this series. The narrator does an excellent job of milking the gothic aspects.
Nikki May
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2012 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I absolutely LOVED this book and I need to read the second book RIGHT NOW!


The characters: Darren Shan is such a cool and likeable character. I love how he tells the story and he's just a very fond character. He's definitely a brave character and will do anything to keep his friends and family safe and that's what I loved about him.

Steve was also a very interesting character. I thought he was interesting because he was manipulating and there was something dark about him. I can't w
Jun 22, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All ages
Recommended to Andrea by: chapterchicks
Cirque Du Freak is really popular. I even saw a jock at my school reading them, which is quite surprising.. So, I got this book last night, and I'm done. And I loved it! At first I read the introduction, and I was like, wow, this is real? Now, I do not think it is. Because well, vampires, and a huge colorful spider named Madam Octa? Yeah, I don't think so. But, I loved the characters.
So, I watching one of those book hauls/reviews on YouTube. The videos with the username chapter chicks. Yeah, we
Even though this series is obviously meant for young people, I (currently age 32) found many aspects of this book to be enjoyable and entertaining. It was really dark -- I was honestly surprised at how dark it went considering it IS for young adults. There were a couple of moments where I laughed out loud, too. I am definitely going to read the rest of the series because I'm curious to see where the plot goes.
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

“A world of "if"s, but it would make no difference. If I could go back in time... but I couldn't. The past was behind me. The best thing now would be to stop looking over my shoulder. It was time to forget the past and look to the present and future.”

I've now read three of this series. I can't say it's my favorite Young Adult series since I have so many to read still. Based on what I've read so far, if they stay this good or improve, I'd have to answer that question with, "Yes, the Cirque Du F
Goldilocks Reads (Jenna Vahue)
That was one of the most ho-hum and yet frightening books I have ever read. It was recommended by a book blogger I no longer follow and I found out that I own the film adaptation. The story never clarified the age of the protagonist and it was disconcerting to read how a child was caught up in such frightening circumstances. I love novels with circus themes, and I hadn't read any freak show settings. The freak show section was scarier than I expected because I thought this book was intended for ...more
Dec 16, 2010 Adeeb rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book! The moment I started the first page, I couldn't stop reading.

The book is about two boys who go to a freakshow and then everything starts to go wrong.

The narration is in first person point of view(which I prefer over third person).
The book is short, but there are twelve books in the series.
The book is about vampires(but no it's not a vampire romance-which is a good thing).
The characters are very likable and you care for them.
The book is overall great. I assure you, i
Samantha Tolleson
Nov 07, 2009 Samantha Tolleson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Urban Fantasy fans, Real Monster fans, YA fans
Recommended to Samantha by: The Demonata series
Oh my effing gods. That streetcar just came, and smacked me upside the ignorant head. An instant favorite. Anyone who is suffering from intense boredom should be immediately cured after reading this.
The story centers around a teen named Darren, who has an obsession with spiders. He makes the mistake of stealing a vampire's prized performing Spider.
Absolutely fantastic book, and I highly recommend!
 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Yosbe  Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

Cirque du Freak puede convertirse fácilmente en mi nueva serie favorita, aunque es muy pronto para decirlo, sólo sé que después de este me voy corriendo a leer el 2.

Y aunque su escritura es bastante juvenil y además, trata de vampiros, un tema que ya está sacándome de los nervios... ¡lo logra!

¡Darren Shan logra con sus giros y oscura trama conquistar al lector hasta la última página!

Ambs ❤❤
Mar 20, 2014 Ambs ❤❤ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-all, owned
Admittedly, I saw this movie years ago. Wasn't bad, although a little childish (which I'm not complaining about). I'm also not that into vampire stories. However, I have always been intrigued by this story, not sure why. So when I had the chance to listen to it, I jumped.

This was not a bad story, a little heartbreaking, but a great setup to a series. I will read the next book before I decide to continue on or be finished with this story. I'd recommend this book to teens who are looking a for a
Apr 02, 2017 Niki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finally started this series because the movie adaptation snuck its way into a conversation I was having with a friend; we both remembered enjoying the movie quite a lot, so I decided it was finally time to try the book series. I already had the files in my Kobo, even.

The book ended up being far simpler than I thought, the writing style is very childish. It's obviously a case of Artemis Fowl, as in "this is a book for children, so I don't have to make an effort!" on the writer's part. Meh. I kn
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SE Reading Buffs 1st: Cirque du freak A Living Nightmare 3 7 Oct 28, 2015 06:42AM  
vampires 1 4 Nov 04, 2014 08:19PM  
Reading Reflection 1 1 8 Sep 15, 2014 06:38PM  
100 Books Challenge: Cirque du Freak - Darren Shan 12 28 Apr 10, 2014 11:17PM  
Do you think Steve Leopard was born evil? 3 35 Mar 22, 2014 04:59PM  
Questions That Can or Can't be Answered 7 68 Nov 02, 2013 06:31AM  
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Librarian's note: Also writes books for adults under the name Darren Dash. And in the past he has released books for adults under the names D.B. Shan and Darren O'Shaughnessy.

Darren Shan (born July 2, 1972 in London, England) is the pen name of the Irish author Darren O'Shaughnessy, as well as the name of the protagonist of his book series The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as The Cirque Du Freak
More about Darren Shan...

Other Books in the Series

Cirque du Freak (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque Du Freak, #2)
  • Tunnels of Blood (Cirque Du Freak, #3)
  • Vampire Mountain (Cirque Du Freak, #4)
  • Trials of Death (Cirque Du Freak, #5)
  • The Vampire Prince (Cirque Du Freak, #6)
  • Hunters of the Dusk (Cirque Du Freak, #7)
  • Allies of the Night (Cirque du Freak, #8)
  • Killers of the Dawn (Cirque Du Freak, #9)
  • The Lake of Souls (Cirque Du Freak, #10)
  • Lord of the Shadows (Cirque Du Freak, #11)

Share This Book

“I don't like it, but my hands are tied. I just want you to know this: if I ever get the chance to betray you, I will. If the opportunity arises to pay you back, I'll take it. You'll never be able to trust me.” 296 likes
“The thing about real life is, when you do something stupid, it normally costs you. In books the heroes can make as many mistakes as they like. It doesn't matter what they do, because everything works out in the end. They'll beat the bad guys and put things right and everything ends up cool.
In real life, vacuum cleaners kill spiders. If you cross a busy road without looking, you get whacked by a car. If you fall from a tree, you break some bones.
Real life's nasty. It's cruel. It doesn't care about heroes and happy endings and the way things should be. In real life, bad things happen. People die. Fights are lost. Evil often wins.
I just wanted to make that clear before I begun.”
More quotes…