(4/20) The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Birth of a Killer – “20 YA Novels for Adolescents”

Birth of a Killer is a young adult horror novel written by Darren Shan. It is the first of a four novel series titled The Saga of Larten Crepsley. The series is a prequel to the twelve novel series titled Cirque Du Freak.

Birth of a Killer was published on September 28, 2010 and consists of 256 pages. In 2010, Birth Of A Killer was shortlisted for the Berkshire Book Award, in the UK and in 2011, it was shortlisted for the Independent Booksellers Week Award, in the UK.

Birth of a Killer is covers Larten Crepsley’s backstory before he met Darren Shan. This first novel of the prequel series gives us a glimpse of his childhood, the types of relationships he had with his family and the people around him, and how he ended up becoming a vampire.

I wanted to read this novel because when I was in high school, I read the 12 novel series titled Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. I only recently discovered that this prequel series existed about one of the important characters in the series, Larten Crepsley. I really loved Cirque Du Freak when I read it in high school and it was what inspired me to pursue a career in writing stories, so I was excited to learn there is a prequel.

I recommend this novel series to sixth graders and up and I would read to my students as a group. If my students ended up liking the series and they feel they want to read it individually, I would encourage them to do just that. The novel does a wonderful job of creating horror, but in a way where it won’t disturb young readers and instead, drive in more young adult readers.

For a read aloud, I would go with:

  • Pgs. 7 – 13, “Home Life of Larten Crepsley”.

  • Pgs. 14 – 20, “Work Life of Larten Crepsley”.

The novel isn’t the type of horror that makes the reader feel uneasy. The reader feels immersed in the fictional universe of Cirque Du Freak. The horror of the Cirque Du Freak universe (more specifically, this novel) doesn’t rely on gore or stomach churning scenes to be able to drive the story, even though there may be some stomach churning scenes, such as eating cobwebs. The novel heavily relies on the storytelling and it reaches a point where it doesn’t feel scary, rather it feels there’s a connection between the readers and the main character.

I would love to explore more young adult horror novels that aren’t necessarily similar to Darren Shan, but have a unique storytelling experience like Darren Shan does. When I was in high school, Darren Shan was the only young adult novel writer that I was exposed to when it came to the young adult horror genre, so I would like to discover more authors who do the same, but with their own spin and unique touch.

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