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Darren Shan

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Darren Shan
The Saga of Darren Shan character
First appearanceVampire Blood: Cirque du Freak (2000)
Portrayed byChris Massoglia (film)
Voiced byRalph Lister (audiobook narrator)
OccupationVampire Prince (elected)
Vampire's Assistant (formerly)
Significant othersDebbie Hemlock
Rebecca (Monkey Girl) (film)

Search Darren Shan on Amazon.

Darren Shan is the pen name (as well as a fictional character) of Irish novelist Darren O'Shaughnessy (born July 2, 1972).[1][2] O'Shaughnessy has published several children's books under the name,[3] most notably The Saga of Darren Shan, which has sold over 30 million copies and spawned a 2009 film and manga series from 2006 to 2009. Darren Shan also serves as the fictional narrator of and a character in The Saga of Darren Shan[4] as well as narrator of its prequel, a four-part book series titled The Saga of Larten Crepsley, in which the character makes a cameo appearance in the fourth book. Shan is also featured as a minor character in The Demonata crossover short story "Shanta Claus".[3]

In The Saga of Darren Shan, Shan serves as both the narrator and a character, abridging a series of diaries sent to him from an alternate reality where he was turned into a half-vampire at the age of 12, and his life over the following eighteen years.[4] The series The Saga of Larten Crepsley is written as a mock-biography of Shan's mentor Larten Crepsley, following Crepsley through his childhood and 200 years of life as a vampire.[5]

Other works by Shan include several series The Demonata, Zom-B and Archibald Lox',' the trilogy The City, and the stand-alone books Koyasan, The Thin Executioner and Lady of the Shades, the latter of which Shan makes a brief appearance in.[6]

In the film, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, Darren Shan is portrayed by Chris Massoglia,[7] further abridging the events of the book series and depicting Shan as becoming a vampire at the age of 16.[8] O'Shaughnessy has expressed interest in a more "faithful" adaptation of the book or manga series version of the Darren Shan character being produced in a future reboot.[9]


In the first book, Cirque Du Freak, "Darren" states over his narration that he used no real names in the books, and that the names used by him are in substitution of the real names of the key players in his life (done both for their protection and in the fear of being discovered for his true self).

Obsessed with spiders, having had a pet tarantula as a child, Darren Shan becomes enamoured with Mr. Larten Crepsley's spider Madam Octa when he sneaks off to the Cirque du Freak freak show with his best friend Steve Leonard, who recognises Mr. Crepsley from a painting of his. After sneaking back into the freak show to steal Madam Octa, Darren overhears a confrontation between the Steve and Mr. Crepsley where Steve identifies Mr. Crepsley as a vampire and asks to be turned by him and taken on as his half-vampire assistant, to which Mr. Crepsley initially accepts, before refusing after identifying his blood as "bad" after tasting it. When Steve is later bitten by Madam Octa at his home, Darren is forced to seek Mr. Crepsley's help, who agrees to cure Steve only on the condition that Darren become his half-vampire assistant instead. Forced to leave his family due to his slowed ageing, Darren fakes his death with Mr. Crepsley's help, and joins Cirque du Freak, with Steve developing a grudge towards Darren for "abandoning him." In The Vampire's Assistant, Darren befriends "snake boy" Evra Von and the onion-loving Sam Grest, along with environmental activist Reggie "R.V" Veggie, who seeks to free the show's wolf-man from its cage, believing it to be a trapped animal. In the process, R.V.'s hands are eaten, and Sam is mortally wounded. Having been informed by Mr. Crepsley that if a vampire drains a human of blood, the vampire would keep a part of the person's spirit within them, Darren willingly drinks Sam's blood to keep his spirit alive, ineriting his love of onions. In Tunnels of Blood, after moving to a city with Mr. Crepsley, Darren learns of the existence of the vampaneze, a sub-species of vampires with purple skin and red hair, nails and eyes, who kill all they attempt to drink blood from. As Mr. Crepsley hunts a mad vampaneze named Muurlough, Darren falls in love with student Debbie Hemlock, being invitied over to her house for Christmas Eve. After managing to kill Murlough with Darren's help, Mr. Crepsley informs him that they must leave for Vampire Mountain lest the vampaneze hunt them to the ends of the Earth, and Darren wishes Debbie a "Merry Christmas" before departing.

In the Vampire Rites trilogy, set years later, Darren arrives at Vampire Mountain with Mr. Crepsley, where he is forced to take part in the Trials of Initiation to prove his worth and right to be a vampire, befriending little person Harkat Mulds, whom he had previously known as "Lefty". After failing his fourth trial, Darren decides to escape execution with help from his friend, pacifist and soon to be Vampire Prince Kurda Smahlt. As they flee, they come across a group of vampaneze Kurda has smuggled into the mountain, intending to take it by force, in the hope his people would be spared from the rise of the Lord of the Vampaneze, a prophecied vampaneze leader who has recently appeared. Barely escaping alive, Darren is instrumental in foiling Kurda's plot, and made a Prince for his bravery, although he is left traumatised from personally killing someone for the first time.

After several years of war with the vampaneze, in Vampire War, Darren learns from Des Tiny that he is one of three hunters with the power to kill the Lord of the Vampaneze before the vampires are eradicated, and that he has missed the first of three opportunities to have killed the Lord in foiling Kurda's plot. Near the beginning of the quest he is told by Lady Evanna that a Lord of the Shadows will rise at the end of the war between the two clans, and only his identity has yet to be determined – he will either be the Lord of the Vampaneze, or Darren himself. After reuniting with Debbie, with whom he helps found a human-run organization to help in the fight against the vampaneze, Darren and his hunters are caught in an elaborate trap created by the Lord of the Vampaneze, resulting ultimately in Mr. Crepsley's death, and Darren learning that the Lord is his former best friend Steve Leonard.

In life we don't usually get to choose the time of our defining moments. We just have to stand and face them when they come, no matter what sort of a state we're in.

– Darren Shan

In Vampire Destiny, travelling to a post-apocalyptic future populated with dragons with Harkat in The Lake of Souls, Darren learns that Harkat is a future version of Kurda, resurrected from the titular "lake of souls" by Des Tiny and brought back in time as one of his little people, and that the future originates from the rise of the Lord of the Shadows. Returning to the past in Lord of the Shadows to discover that Steve had impregnated his younger sister Annie as revenge against Darren, with the intent of using their subsequently-born son Darius against him by turning him into a half-vampaneze, before Steve slits the throught of Evra's young son, leading Darren to swear revenge. In Sons of Destiny, after reuniting with Annie and taking on Darius as his apprentice to prevent him from needing to kill, Darren enters into a final confrontation with Steve and the rest of the vampaneze, mortally wounding him. Des Tiny then reveals that Darren and Steve were manipulated by him their whole lives so that the victor of their confrontation could throw the world into chaos, and that they are both half-brothers and Tiny's biological children. Defying his destiny, Darren has Steve mortally wound him himself as well, before dragging himself and Steve into a river, where both drown and end up in the Lake of Souls. In the far future, Darren is reincarnated by Des Tiny as a little person like his friend Harkat per the request of his half-sister Lady Evanna, who wishes to save Darren from a fate she does not believe he deserves. Darren is then sent back in time to the Cirque du Freak the night he went with Steve so that after the show, where he scares off his past self when Steve is trying to make a deal with Larten Crepsley, so he never embarks on his dark path. After giving his diaries to his other half-brother Mr. Tall, with instructions to give the diaries and a letter to his older, normal, non-vampire self so that he will publish it as a fictional book series itself in the hope that one day the vampire and vampaneze clans would read it and uncover Des Tiny's schemes before they could take place, Darren dies, ascending to Paradise.

Darren O'Shaughnessy in 2016

As pen name[edit]

The name Darren Shan originally came about after the publication of O'Shaughnessy's first book Ayuamarca in February 1999, and being told that his surname was difficult to pronounce,[10] and intending to have a different pen name for children's books.[11] Named after his paternal grandfather "Paddy Shan" and initially alternating between "D. B. Shan" and "Darren Shan", O'Shaughnessy decided to use the "Darren Shan" name going forward,[10] deciding it would be interesting to use the name the title character of Cirque du Freak, intended to be a "side project" he was working on between two adult books. After the widespread success of Cirque du Freak and Warner Bros. bying its movie rights prior to publication, O'Shaughnessy expanded the concept into a book series under the Shan name and brand of "The Master of Horror", reusing it for most subsequent novels, including ones intended for adult audiences (later rebranded Darren Dash).[12]

O'Shaughnessy publishes most of his children's novels under the pen name, including the twelve-book The Saga of Darren Shan series, the ten-book The Demonata series, the four-book The Saga of Larten Crepsley series, the twelve-book Zom-B series, the ongoing Archibald Lox series, Koyasan, Lady of the Shades and The Thin Executioner.[13]

Shan also appears in "Shanta Claus", a crossover short story between The Saga of Darren Shan and The Demonata (only available to read at Christmas on O'Shaughnessy's website),[14] and in the 2012 metafictional romantic-horror novel Lady of the Shades, in which they infrequently break the fourth wall.[15]


  1. Cruz, Lenika (2014-10-23). "The Postmodern Brilliance of "A Series of Unfortunate Events"". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  2. "Daniel Handler | Biography, Books, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "'Who Could That Be at This Hour?': Lemony Snicket's new book discusses his childhood". Christian Science Monitor. 2012-10-19. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Eloise, Marianne (2019-10-03). "Wicked wonder: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events at 20". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  5. Healy, Christopher (2012-10-12). "Unsolved Mysteries". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  6. "Shanville Monthly December 2008". Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  7. Scott, Mike. "Slew of stars set to come to town". The Times-Picayune. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2012-09-24. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  9. "I'm Darren Shan, here to chat about my new Archibald Lox series, but also more than happy to chinwag about my other books, writing, the Cirque Du Freak movie, and anything else too!",, June 5, 2020
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Darren Shan". Christopher Little. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  11. Shan, Darren (2014-04-19). "Interview: Darren Shan" (Interview). Interviewed by Lisa Morton.
  12. Phelan, Eugene (2009-10-06). "Darren's premiere dream comes true" (PDF). Limerick Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  13. Shan, Darren (2016-07-17). "'I was in my late 20s before I made enough to move out of home...'" (Interview). Interviewed by Louise McBride.
  14. "The Books". Darren Dash: The Official Website. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  15. "Books For Older Readers". Retrieved 2019-05-27.

External links[edit]

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