Larten Crepsley is a child slave working in a silk factory with his cousin to earn money for his poverty gripped family. When he finally stands up to his bullying boss Larten finds himself an outcast on the streets with no prospects or hope. An old vampire called Seba offers him the chance to be his assistant and become a vampire when he is older.
At last! I'm finally getting round to reading this four part series about the life of Mr Crepsley before he meets Darren in the saga of Darren Shan series. I loved the character and was interested to see that he was just as wild and rebellious as Darren was when he first becomes an assistant. Seba has more patience with Larten than Mr Crepsley has with Darren though! Young Larten has had a horrible childhood and I reckon he was better off with the vampire life than what his other path could have been. As he starts to learn about vampire life he is also introduced to the Cirque Du Freak and Mr Tall. I enjoyed this part of the story, getting the chance to see Mr Tall and a new set of freakish performers was like meeting an old friend again. It is here that Larten starts to find his confidence, learn a few skills and tricks, and finds a new best friend. Wester is on the hunt for a vampaneze killer who murdered his family and Larten decides to help him on his quest, bringing himself into contact with a dangerous enemy that we see later in the saga.
The other enjoyable bit was Larten's first visit to Vampire Mountain where he is introduced to mindless violence and total humiliation, making him question the whole idea of being a full blooded vampire. It was great to see Vancha and Paris again in this book, and to see the doubts and fears that established characters from the saga like Seba and Mr Crepsley had in their younger days. Vampire Mountain is always great fun to read about and that three book arc was my favourite part of the original saga.
I don't really have any complaints about the book. There weren't any slow bits and the writer keeps the story flowing along without the need for long winded descriptions. The characters are well written and developed as well, which is important when introducing Wester and adding more about those we know better. The author as always does a good job of making you care about the characters and this is quite poignant when you know the fate in future books of people Larten is meeting for the first time. This book has all the good elements from the saga series-humour, action and a big dose of hard life lessons for our main characters. It also has the added benefit of adding a vital bit of back story in the life of Mr Crepsley. Bringing in a few old favourites in different circumstances was very enjoyable and I enjoyed reading this book. If the rest of the series keeps up the standard then I will be quite happy.
I would recommend re-reading The Saga of Darren Shan to remind yourself who the main players are so you can read this 4 book series without thinking 'I know that name...who was he again?' like I kept doing! Suitable for older teens and adults who don't mind a little bit of gore in their reading.
3.5 out of 5!