Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)” as Want to Read:
Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare

(Cirque du Freak #1)

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  54,647 ratings  ·  3,741 reviews
Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human/half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers-- Mr. Crepsley-- is a vampire!
Steve remains after the show
Paperback, 257 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cirque Du Freak, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 Li…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)
Rhosyn Yes! I read them when I was 10/11 and they're great!…moreYes! I read them when I was 10/11 and they're great!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  54,647 ratings  ·  3,741 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak, #1)
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.
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This is NOT a fluffy-happy-cloud middle school book

Darren Shan and his three best friends manage to score two tickets to the Cirque du Freak - a one-night-only freak circus that promises hair-raising terror and blood-curdling sights. Through a bit of luck ( or was it fate? ) both Darren and Steve are chosen to attend. The circus certainly lives up to its name - Hans Hands, Remus Two-Bellies and the Snakeboy were all absolutely magnificent.

And then...there was the trained spider. The most ama
Jul 19, 2011 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. ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Cirque Du Freak = The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren Shan
The Saga of Darren Shan (known as Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan in the United States) is a young adult 12-part book series written by Darren Shan (pen name of Darren O'Shaughnessy) about the struggle of a boy who has become involved in the world of vampires. As of October 2008, the book has been published in 33 countries around the world, in 30 different languages.
عنوان: قصه های سرزمین اشباح : جلد یک 1 : سیرک عجایب؛ نویسنده: دارن
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
I enjoyed this when I was younger and now as well

However I do think it’s pretty dark for the age group intended
Jan 04, 2015 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

Easy to read and engrossing.
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
 Danielle The Book Huntress
Nov 16, 2008 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
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2019, 2021
There is nothing more I like than vampires, so a different twist to these ancient (and arguably overdone) beings is always enjoyable! I first discovered this series when I was in 8th grade; I finally found the whole series in paperback and am rereading them!

Darren Shan had a normal, enjoyable, happy life. Great friends, loving family, a little sister whom he could trust and confide in... He's a boy one can relate to, and Steve, his best friend, makes things interesting (and tense).

The adventures
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember watching this movie as a teenager. I don't think I liked it much. This book however though, I would have devoured it happily had I found it during my school days. Unfortunately timing is everything. I would have enjoyed it more and given it 4 stars if I had read it then.

It's a good book for school kids. My reading it as an adult just made it less entertaining. That's all. And if I come across the second part of this book, I will definitely read it.
Shawna Finnigan
This book was very different than what I expected it to be. I didn't read the synopsis of the book, so I guess my shock at the book's contents was partly my fault. I basically just looked at free Audible books with vampires in it and this one popped up, so I listened to it. I'd recommend reading this book as opposed to listening to it though because I didn't fancy the narrator's voice very much. He sort of sounded like an annoying elementary school teacher who tried to dramatically change his vo ...more
Will M.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t write reviews.

I found this in the audible membership last week. It’s obvious how much of a hermit I am since I had never heard of this series, nor the film. Film-wise it doesn’t appear that I’m missing anything. The books, however, are quite cute.

The story was not what I had expected. I didn’t realize it was a YA book until I got into it. I liked it anyhow, though this isn’t my usual thing. All of the characters are charming and not overly innocent. I’m excited to continue the series.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Upon rereading in 2018, I give the first one 4 stars.
It reads as more middle grade and is slow paced at first, but after the second half, oh boy! The pace really picks up and my excitement to continue the series grew. That ending really hit hard as an "adult" now much more than it did as a kid when death meant little to me. Way to keep the reader hooked!
Review for the entire saga. I finished my reread and it was even better than I remembered, they are made for younger audiences so some things could be better, but overall they are creepy and good.
Darren Shan (the author) created a world of its own populated by vampires and vampanezes and witches and agents of destiny and it fits pretty well with ours.
and best of all, whatever you think the ending will be, I don't think you'd be expecting it, so I think it's pretty good in that regard, usually,
Oct 10, 2009 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
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good! This is exactly what horror/fantasy book/series for kid should be. It have good characters, it's fast pace, have some dark enough stuff and a really intriguing storyline! I can wait to read the next one! Well done! ...more
Arjhay  The Mood Reader
Reading Experience : Amazing!
Villainous Act : High
Blood and Gore : Low
Disturbing Parts : High
Reading Slog : Low

Not a fan of YA horror but Darren Shan was very creative that he makes himself became a part of the story. I want to continue the series because of its richness creepy build of doing a story especially the character of Mr. Crepsley hail all the praise for this man especially the narrator that makes him became lively and scary.

On to the next book in the series...
Marla Argüelles
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I decided to dive into these books again after ten years, and I'm now thinking that Mr Crepsley and Darren would be one and two years older, respectively. Time has no mercy.

Honest to God, my heart aches just thinking about everything that will happen in these books, but it is worth the ride. What an amazing story 💛
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was totally awesome. At first I thought that this book would be boring, but then the main character, Darren Shan and his friend Steve went to a freak show called, "Cirque Du Freak..." I was totally psyched to get into this book! When they went to the freak show it took me by surprise. To be honest I was a little bit scared. The plot about this book is really cool. It all begins with two best friends that live in London, United Kingdom. Darren Shan is the main character and his best fr ...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made the mistake of watching the movie first and I think I’m the only one who really liked it!! So I wasn’t expecting Darren to be quite so young, or for the characters to be quite so reckless. They really tone that down in the movie I guess. The characters were sweet or interesting though. The plot was good, if not a little short. Not too dangerous and definitely humorous.

Overall, I enjoyed it and the narrator was fabulous!! The voices he made were just so fun and felt spot on!! Because of t
Briar's Reviews
Years ago I watched the film and fell in love with this series. It was a shame the movies never continued because I was enchanted and adored it. I had a Harry Potter-mania type love for it. Why wouldn't I? I'm a girl obsessed with Halloween and all things spooky!

As an adult, it's weird picking this book up. I can totally tell I'd be obsessed with this book series as a middle grader. It's a real shame I never grabbed it back then. It would have totally fit on my shelves next to my Goosebumps and
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
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
Rachel Bea
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. ...more
Raquel (Rocki)
Interesting first book. I have seen these on the shelves in the library since I was a teenager so of course I thought it finally time to read them. Very action packed always moving and doing something. I might have to see where this all leads to.
3.5 🌟
A promising beginning to an already intriguing series. It's funny, dark, and a quick, entertaining read. I like Darren Shan as the narrator, he's a likeable character. I'll be sure to continue the series.
This Started out so well and the movie is wonderful. I enjoyed this book, but the rest of the series lets you down. Read the first one and then let it go!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please correct page count 5 17 May 22, 2021 06:01PM  
2019 Roe Reading ...: Cirque Du Freak 1 1 Sep 30, 2020 03:49PM  
SE Reading Buffs 1st: Cirque du freak A Living Nightmare 3 8 Oct 28, 2015 06:42AM  
vampires 1 5 Nov 04, 2014 08:19PM  
Reading Reflection 1 1 9 Sep 15, 2014 06:38PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Procession of the Dead (The City Trilogy, #1)
  • The Forest Dweller
  • Kings & Queens (Royal Blood, #1)
  • Swoon (Swoon, #1)
  • Doppelganger
  • Framed! (Traces, #1)
  • Lost Bullet (Traces, #2)
  • Užkeiktoji pono Kuko knyga
  • Mondjad, Atikám!
  • Nevermore
  • I, Autohouse
  • Mano tėtis ir kiti nesusipratimai (Viskas apie mano šeimą #2)
  • Viskas apie mano šeimą (Viskas apie mano šeimą #1)
  • Wie man seine durchgeknallte Familie überlebt (Rick #1)
  • Snake and Lizard
  • Natuke napakad lood
  • The Duck in the Gun
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

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)

Related Articles

His Favorite Horror: The master of macabre shares his favorite works of terror just in time for his new noir fantasy, City of the Snakes.
19 likes · 12 comments
“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.” 332 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…