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Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, Book 1) Hardcover – 30 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks; First Edition edition (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007315856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007315857
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Darren Shan's real name is Darren O'Shaughnessy (pronounced O-Shock-Nessy, though it can also be pronounced O-Shawn-Essy). Although he is Irish, he was born on July 2, 1972, in St. Thomas' Hospital, London -- directly across the river from the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, which may explain his fascination with evil bloodsuckers! He lived in South East London, near the Elephant & Castle. He started school at the early age of three (he was such a wild child, no pre-school facility would have him!), in English Martyrs. At the age of six, he moved to Limerick in Ireland, with his parents and younger brother, and has lived there ever since.

Shan went to primary school in Askeaton, where his mother was a teacher, then to secondary school in Copsewood College in Pallaskenry. Later, he went back to London to study Sociology and English at Roehampton University. He then worked for a cable television company in Limerick for a couple of years, before setting up as a full-time writer at the age of 23.

Although Shan always wanted to be a writer, it was only in his teenage years that he began writing in his spare time for fun (before that, he only wrote stories if they were for homework). He bought his first typewriter when he was 14, and never looked back, knocking out loads of short stories and comic scripts, and making false starts on several books, which he never completed. He enjoyed his first taste of literary success at age 15, as a runner-up in a television script-writing competition for RTE in Ireland, with a dark comedy script titled A Day in the Morgue (he was morbid even then!).

Shan was 17 when he finished his first novel. Although it was never published, he relished the writing experience, and found himself focusing more on novels in the coming years, leaving behind the short-story format. For the next several years, sandwiched between university and work, he wrote an average of one book a year, experimenting with different ideas, genres, lengths and styles. When he started writing full-time, his output shot up to 5 to 6 books per year! But that has dropped back to 2 to 3 recently, due to all the travelling around he's been doing to promote sales of his books.

All of these early books were adult-oriented. Although Shan quite liked the idea of writing a children's book one day, he considered himself an adult writer first and foremost. In fact, Shan's initial breakthrough was with an adult book, in 1999, titled Ayuamarca (since re-released in the UK as Procession Of The Dead, and coming to the USA in 2010).

In January 2000, his first children's book, Cirque du Freak, which he'd written as a fun side-project, was published. The first book in a series titled The Saga of Darren Shan (or Cirque du Freak, as it's known in America), it attracted rave reviews and an ever-growing army of fans hungry to learn more about vampires which were quite unlike any that anyone had ever seen before!

Shan loved writing for children so much, that for the next several years he focused exclusively on his books for younger readers. First, he wrote a total of 12 books about vampires. He quickly followed up his vampiric saga with The Demonata, a series about demons. Running to ten books in total, The Demonata cemented Shan's place in the UK as the Master Of Children's Horror, and saw him score his first UK #1 bestseller. He also wrote a one-off short book, called Koyasan, for Wold Book Day in the UK.

There was a very successful manga adaptation of Shan's vampire series, drawn by the Japanese artist, Takahiro Arai. It was originally serialized in Japan, but collected volumes are now on sale in the USA, UK and other countries.

In addition to writing for children, Shan has now returned to his first love and is once again writing for adults as well. He has had two adult books published in the UK, Procession Of The Dead and Hell's Horizon. They have been released in a number of other countries too, and are due to hit the USA in 2010. A third, City of the Snakes, goes on sale in the UK in March 2010. His first adult books were released under the name of D B Shan, but they are being reprinted under the name of Darren Shan in March 2010, and City of the Snakes will be released under the Darren Shan name.

By the start of 2010, Shan's books were on sale in every continent, in 39 countries, in 31 languages, and have been children's bestsellers in America, Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and other countries. The books have topped adult bestseller charts in Hungary, Japan and Taiwan. In total, Shan's books have sold close to 15 million copies worldwide!!!!

The movie rights to Cirque Du Freak were bought by Universal, and the first movie (which combines elements from the first three books in the series) was released on October 23rd, 2009, starring newcomer Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan, along with a wide array of established stars such as Josh Hutcherson, John C Reilly, Salma Hayek, Willem Defoe and Ken Watanabe. The movie was called Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in February 2010.

A big film buff, with a collection of more than four thousand movies at home, Shan also reads lots of comics and books, and likes to study and collect original artwork, especially comic art and impressionist and post-impressionist art. He has recently started adding sculptures to his collection, making use of the large, empty field outside his back door. Other interests include long walks, watching football (he's a Tottenham Hotspur and Ireland fan), listening to pop and rock music, theatre, worldwide travel, sampling the delights of both gourmet cuisine and finger-licking junk food, and dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers!!!

Shan spends most of his time in Limerick, Ireland, with his girlfriend Bas. He has no pets, but a neighbourhood dog called Goldie joins him on his walks most days. He also feeds a variety of wild birds, and spots the occasional hare and pheasant strolling through his back yard. In addition to his main home in Ireland, Shan has an apartment in London, to which he escapes for a burst of high-speed living every so often, when he feels the need to get his juices flowing!! Shan rarely writes when in London or on the road, preferring to tie himself to his computer when at home in Limerick, where he can work away solidly without any distractions in the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.

Product Description


“His writing is slick, his dialogue sharp and clever, his plotting immaculate. His books ooze with the kind of creepy, dark atmosphere and powerful characters that young teenage readers lap up. Shan is honing his craft with every book, and I look forward to the next gore-fest with relish.”
Irish Independent

“Forget Stephen King, this author's the master of scaring children.”
The Big Issue in Scotland

“A tantalising start to the series and a must-read for Darren Shan fans.”
Books Quarterly

About the Author

Darren Shan is the number-one best-selling author of the series THE SAGA OF DARREN SHAN, the DEMONATA and more recently the SAGA OF LARTEN CREPSLEY and ZOM-B. His books have been read by millions of people around the world and translated into more than 25 languages. Darren lives in seclusion in the depths of Ireland. He is a big film buff, and also loves theatre, comics and books, and collecting art. He loves dreaming up new ways to terrify his readers, but never drinks blood. Or so he claims.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By AngusJ on 1 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a 15 Year Old emphatic reader, I don't struggle to get through 3 or 4 novels a week plus - but it's still rare that I manage an entire 250 page novel in one 2 1/2 hour sitting. Birth of a Killer is another fabulous instalment to an already incredible repertoire by Darren Shan. I ordered the book from amazon a few days ago, but a friend gave me their copy, saying I had to read it immediately. I started at 9 O'Clock this morning (during an exam revision session in school) and powered through, not being able to look up - as I quite literally found my self hurling through Larten's initial adventures with him on every turn of the page. Before I knew it my school bell was ringing at 11:10 but I couldn't get up! I genuinely couldn't bring myself to put the book down! Unfortunately, by the time I'd finished it, break was over and everyone was coming back into the room ... but it was worth it!

I think this book shows another side to Shan. Having not read The Demonata Series I'm unable to comment on those, but from my experience of The Saga of Darren Shan he is a writer who draws readers in by bundling them from one fast paced action sequence to the next, and indeed from reading some of The Demonata reviews this is the impression I get. The Birth of a Killer takes a step back, especially in the first half of the book, and looks more at the emotional side of things, especially as Larten makes the decision between becoming a Vampire's Assistant and committing himself to a life of darkness, or staying in the human world and ... I wont tell you what drove him to becoming a Vampire - that would spoil it! This somewhat more emotional outlook, in no way impairs the story line though!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicola on 14 Nov. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to say, this is probably my favourite book thats been released recently, my favourite books of all time are the books of 'the saga of darren shan' in that well written series, I could laugh, cry and relate to many of the characters. When the series was concluded, I knew there wouldnt be more, because how could it be extended after the conclusion that was previously written. What I didnt think of however, is that we could find out more from the past; not the future, and discover how some relationships and attitudes were formed between the older characters in the series. This witty, interesting book succesfully does exactly that and if you enjoyed the saga of darren shan, then youll love this. If you havent read that series though, then youll need to so that this can be understood.
I loved this book so much, that Ive already pre-ordered the sequel 'ocean of blood' which isnt out until next april!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barmy_Bex on 31 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Having read and mostly enjoyed the Cirque Du Freak series I wanted to know more about Larten, he always was one of my favourite characters from the series so I was quite excited to find out he had his own series. All the events happen a long time before those in Cirque Du Freak, way back when Larten was still a human. The series will then lead you through his life until it meets back to where we first met him performing at the Cirque. This is book 1. I have made these reviews harder on myself as I read the first 3 books in one day and am now trying to separate them in my head as to what happened in which. So if things get a bit muddled, forgive me!

I actually found this book started off quite slow, I kept waiting for something great to happen but it took a while to get going. I was glad I stuck with it though as it does get more interesting quiet quickly once it gets going. And it was interesting to see how this mighty vampire started out. I could never have guessed how he got to where he ended up when he met Darren and this answers so many questions - especially the hair!

It's also nice to see the other sides of his personality, from scrawny but quick witted young boy, to feisty and aggressive to scared and adventurous and rebellious. It really makes him seem more real as a character and brings him to life off the page.

It was quite fun meeting characters we already know and trying to place their names and situations. There are obviously some characters that are new to us, those that don't get mentioned in the Darren Shan series, but placing those I did know was fun.

This book is quite short at just 253 pages and I read it in a couple of hours, but it is definitely worth a read. Once you get into it you will rip through it.

Made me want to read the next book for sure. Larten's life is certainly no easy ride and it makes for gripping reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. D. M. Sutton on 6 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
When terrible events force young Larten Crepsley to flee his home he finds himself alone in the world. Then he meets the mysterious Seba Nile, who introduces him to the ways of the vampire clan. Travelling with Seba, Larten experiences the adventures he has always dreamed about. But will he turn his back on humanity and join a world from which there can be no return ...?

Birth of a Killer is the first book in Darren Shan's brand new series The Saga of Larten Crepsley, a prequel series to The Saga of Darren Shan. Now after the ending of The Demonata series and Darren's stand - alone fantasy novel The Thin Executioner I was not all that sure what to expect from Birth of a Killer. I needn't have had any worry because this book is far from bad. It contains all the things that make Darren Shan's books enjoyable. Its got a good adventure, A character that learns lessons throughout the book, it's got a bit of blood and of course its got the charm and comedy Darren is so good at mixing into horror.

Now as usual in Darren's books the main character is in his teens and is also a fairly rebellious character with guts and more attitude than Danny Dyer on a bad day, so those of you expecting this case to be different just because the character is Larten Crepsley a character we'd already established in the succeeding series this is not the case. Larten tends to be rebellious a couple of times in this book.

This book is nothing like what I'd expected and I was very happy to see that the beloved Cirque Du Freak played a part in this, and I imagine it probably will do in future instalments. Like The Demonata, Larten has a kind of Grubbs, Bill - E, Dervish relationship in this with the characters Wester and there mentor Seba Nile.
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