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Hunters of the Dusk: Cirque Du Freak    by Darren Shan order for
Hunters of the Dusk
by Darren Shan
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Hunters of the Dusk is the seventh episode in the saga of boy turned half-vampire Darren Shan. In fact it's the first of a Hunters trilogy that continues this fall in Allies of the Night. The bad news is that this episode doesn't answer the many questions that have accumulated in previous ones. The good news - Darren, his mentor/father figure Mr. Crepsley and his strange, blue-robed 'Little Person' friend Harkat Mulds get a change of scene from Vampire Mountain.

Though he's still only a half-vampire, a combination of circumstances have made Darren a Vampire Prince and, as such, he's spent the six years since his last adventure helping to coordinate the war against the purple-skinned vampaneze. The vampire forces have learned that the Lord of the Vampanese has arisen and begun to recruit an army of 'vampets' (human helpers) to his cause. And Harkat has begun to dream of dragons, a prelude to unlocking the barrier to his past.

The dreaded Desmond Tiny travels to Vampire Mountain and makes his usual dire predictions - about destiny, naturally. This time they send Darren and Mr. Crepsley on quest to hunt the Vampaneze Lord before he can be blooded and become invincible. Harkat accompanies them, and new characters are entangled in the hunt - the wild Vampire Prince Vancha March, and the mysterious, powerful (also short, hairy and ugly) Lady Evanna with her escort of frogs (whatever you do, don't call her a witch!)

Darren begins to go through 'the purge', there are the usual gory encounters with the enemy, and the hunters renew friendships with the strange fellowship of Cirque du Freak. Darren and company learn that they will have four chances to make an end of the Vampaneze Lord. Hunters of the Dusk ends after the first encounter, as our heroes surrender themselves to 'the forces of destiny and future terrors of the night' - more horrific fare for fervid Shan fans!

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