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A Living Nightmare

(Cirque du Freak #1)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  47,924 ratings  ·  3,217 reviews
In the tradition of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, Cirque Du Freak is the frightening saga of a young boy whose visit to a mysterious freak show leads him on a journey into a dark world of vampires. Filled with grotesque creatures, murderous vampires, and a petrifying ending, Cirque Du Freak will chill, thrill, and leave readers begging for more.
Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 1st 2002 by Little, Brown Young Readers (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)

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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  47,924 ratings  ·  3,217 reviews

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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 it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, ya-series
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 amazi
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this when I was younger and now as well

However I do think it’s pretty dark for the age group intended
Oct 05, 2009 rated it liked it
Easy to read and engrossing.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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 (Back to the Books)
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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

Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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!
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!
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Raquel (Rocki)
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book, library
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.
Amy Eye
Jun 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 13, 2008 added it
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.
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
Apr 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2011 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
Chafic (Rello)
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the embodiment of my teenage angst.

Or at least, this was what I was reading when I was a blooming teenager dealing with post-pubescent blues and the joys of awkward early teens. Yay Middle Grade!

A Living Nightmare marks the beginning of a very good series by Darren Shan that introduces the protagonist, also aptly named, Darren Shan, to the darker side of the world of the paranormal - Vampires! And Freak Shows!

In terms of YA series, this is definitely one of best. And I have a Harry Potte
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.
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
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 8 Oct 28, 2015 06:42AM  
vampires 1 4 Nov 04, 2014 08:19PM  
Reading Reflection 1 1 9 Sep 15, 2014 06:38PM  
100 Books Challenge: Cirque du Freak - Darren Shan 12 31 Apr 10, 2014 11:17PM  

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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

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)
“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.” 310 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.”
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