Cirque Du Freak
Goodreads ratings
4.44 / 5

"Cirque Du Freak" Summary

By Darren Shan

fantasy | 2880 pages | Published in NaN

In the tradition of Ray Bradburys Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Stephen Kings Salems Lot, New York Times bestseller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan. 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 performersMr. Crepsleyis a vampire! Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishesbut his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley, and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires. This is Darrens story.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young boy becomes entangled in the dark and mysterious world of vampires when he attends a deadly circus.


"Cirque Du Freak" is the first book in the "The Saga of Darren Shan" series written by Darren Shan. The book is a captivating mix of fantasy, horror, and adventure, which takes readers on a thrilling journey into the dark and mysterious world of vampires. With its unique blend of suspense, action, and unexpected twists, "Cirque Du Freak" is a gripping page-turner that will leave readers hungry for more.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in a small town where two best friends, Darren and Steve, stumble upon an extraordinary circus known as Cirque Du Freak. Intrigued by the rumors of its bizarre and supernatural acts, the boys decide to attend the show. Little do they know, this decision will change their lives forever.

At the circus, they encounter a vampire named Larten Crepsley, who performs with a deadly spider. Fascinated by the vampire's abilities, Darren steals the spider and unintentionally causes the death of his friend's younger brother, prompting a chain of events that will test their friendship and lead them deeper into the world of vampires.

Darren, consumed by guilt, strikes a deal with Larten Crepsley to become a half-vampire in exchange for saving his friend's life. However, this transformation comes with a price. Darren must leave his ordinary life behind and join the mysterious world of vampires, where he must learn to control his newfound powers and navigate the dangerous alliances and rivalries that exist within the vampire community.

Main Characters

Darren ShanThe protagonist and narrator of the story. He is a young boy who becomes a half-vampire and must adapt to his new life.
Steve LeonardDarren's best friend who becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming a vampire.
Larten CrepsleyA vampire who performs at Cirque Du Freak. He becomes Darren's mentor and guide into the world of vampires.
Mr. TinyA mysterious figure who plays a pivotal role in Darren's journey.
Evra VonA snake-boy and performer at Cirque Du Freak who befriends Darren.

Summary of Different Story Points

Chapters 1-5: The Discovery of Cirque Du Freak

Darren and Steve stumble upon Cirque Du Freak and meet Larten Crepsley, who showcases his spider act. Darren steals Madam Octa, the deadly spider, leading to tragic consequences.

Chapters 6-11: The Deal with the Vampire

To save Steve's life, Darren strikes a deal with Larten Crepsley and becomes a half-vampire. He must fake his death and leave his family behind to join the vampire world.

Chapters 12-17: Training and Adaptation

Darren begins his training with Larten Crepsley, learning the ways of vampires and how to control his powers. He struggles to adapt to his new life and faces challenges from his fellow vampires.

Chapters 18-23: A New Identity

Darren assumes a new identity and enrolls in a new school for vampires. He befriends Evra Von, a snake-boy, and faces the hostility of his classmates. Meanwhile, Steve becomes obsessed with becoming a vampire himself.

Chapters 24-30: The Hunt for the Vampaneze

Darren learns about the Vampaneze, a rival faction of vampires who embrace their savage nature. He becomes involved in a mission to hunt down and eliminate them, discovering the true extent of the dangers he faces.

Chapters 31-36: Betrayal and Consequences

Darren's loyalty is tested when Steve joins the Vampaneze and becomes his enemy. He must make difficult choices and face the consequences of his actions.

Main Events

  1. Darren and Steve discover Cirque Du Freak and meet Larten Crepsley.
  2. Darren steals Madam Octa, leading to the death of Steve's brother.
  3. Darren strikes a deal with Larten Crepsley to become a half-vampire.
  4. Darren fakes his death and leaves his family behind to join the vampire world.
  5. Darren undergoes training and adaptation to his new life as a half-vampire.
  6. Darren assumes a new identity and enrolls in a vampire school.
  7. Darren befriends Evra Von and faces hostility from his classmates.
  8. Steve becomes obsessed with becoming a vampire and joins the Vampaneze.
  9. Darren learns about the Vampaneze and becomes involved in their hunt.
  10. Steve betrays Darren, and they become enemies.

Themes and Insights

The Dual Nature of Humanity

The book explores the idea of the dual nature of humanity, with Darren torn between his human and vampire sides. It delves into the internal struggle between good and evil, and the choices individuals make to define themselves.

Friendship and Loyalty

The friendship between Darren and Steve is tested throughout the story. It highlights the importance of loyalty and the consequences of betrayal.

Identity and Transformation

Darren's transformation into a half-vampire leads to a profound change in his identity. The book examines the challenges of adapting to a new identity and the sacrifices that come with it.

Power and Responsibility

As Darren gains powers as a half-vampire, he must grapple with the responsibility that comes with them. The story explores the consequences of wielding power and the choices one must make to use it wisely.

Reader's Takeaway

"Cirque Du Freak" is a thrilling and captivating book that combines elements of fantasy, horror, and adventure into a compelling narrative. It takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, with unexpected twists and turns that keep them engaged from beginning to end. The exploration of themes such as friendship, identity, and the dual nature of humanity adds depth to the story, making it more than just a typical vampire tale. Readers will be left pondering the choices they would make if faced with similar circumstances and eagerly reaching for the next book in the series.


Darren Shan's "Cirque Du Freak" is a must-read for fans of dark fantasy and vampire stories. Its well-crafted plot, relatable characters, and thought-provoking themes make it a standout in the genre. With its gripping storytelling and unforgettable twists, this book will leave readers hungry for more as they delve deeper into the dark and mysterious world of vampires.

Cirque Du Freak FAQ

  1. What is 'Cirque Du Freak' about?

    'Cirque Du Freak' is a book about a young boy named Darren Shan who becomes involved with a mysterious traveling circus. He becomes a vampire's assistant and must navigate the dangerous world of vampires and other mythical creatures.

  2. Who is the author of 'Cirque Du Freak'?

    The author of 'Cirque Du Freak' is Darren Shan.

  3. Is 'Cirque Du Freak' part of a series?

    Yes, 'Cirque Du Freak' is the first book in the 'Saga of Darren Shan' series, which consists of twelve books in total.

  4. What age group is 'Cirque Du Freak' suitable for?

    'Cirque Du Freak' is generally recommended for readers aged 12 and above, as it contains some dark and mature themes.

  5. Are there any movie adaptations of 'Cirque Du Freak'?

    Yes, 'Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant' is a movie adaptation of the book. It was released in 2009.

  6. Can 'Cirque Du Freak' be read as a standalone book?

    While 'Cirque Du Freak' can be enjoyed as a standalone book, it is the first book in a series, and readers may find it more fulfilling to continue with the rest of the series.

  7. Where can I buy 'Cirque Du Freak'?

    'Cirque Du Freak' can be purchased online through various book retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher's website.

  8. Is 'Cirque Du Freak' appropriate for all readers?

    While 'Cirque Du Freak' is a popular book, it contains some dark and mature themes, so it may not be suitable for all readers. Parents or guardians are advised to review the content before allowing younger readers to read it.

  9. Are there any other books by Darren Shan?

    Yes, Darren Shan has written several other series and standalone books, including 'The Demonata' series and 'Zom-B' series.

  10. Is 'Cirque Du Freak' a horror book?

    'Cirque Du Freak' can be categorized as a horror book, as it deals with vampires and other supernatural creatures. However, it also incorporates elements of adventure and fantasy.