Authors: Darren Shan
Tags: #General, #Action & Adventure, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fiction, #Vampires, #Horror, #Horror & Ghost Stories, #Horror stories, #Boys & Men
|Birth of a Killer|
|The Saga Of Larten Crepsley |
|Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2010)|
|Tags:||Vampires, Action Adventure, Horror, Fiction, Horror Ghost Stories, Boys Men, Horror stories, General, Juvenile Fiction|
Vampiresttt Action Adventurettt Horrorttt Fictionttt Horror Ghost Storiesttt Boys Menttt Horror storiesttt Generalttt Juvenile Fictionttt
Gr 6-8-This adventure story traces the early life of master vampire Larten Crepsley. Sent to work in a Dickensian factory, young Larten kills the abusive foreman and flees. He takes shelter in a cemetery crypt where he meets the 500-year-old vampire General Seba Nile, who explains to the terrified youngster that vampires aren't evil. Although they drink human blood, just as the legends say, they do not harm those on whom they feed. When he invites Larten to travel with him as his assistant, the boy agrees. As the first entry in a projected series, this story includes quite a bit of exposition. The plot action covers more than 20 years, taking Larten through his first "blooding" and into full vampire status, and features his first meetings with mysterious Cirque owner Hibernius Tall; Seba's vampire ally Paris Skyle; and the vampaneze Murlough. At times, the pacing feels rather rushed with the effort to introduce many important characters, settings, and themes from Shan's "Cirque du Freak" saga (Little, Brown). Transitions are often abrupt, jumping several years between chapters. A cliff-hanger ending promises further revelations. "Cirque du Freak" aficionados will be intrigued by this glimpse into Crepsley's formative years, but the uninitiated will want to read the original books first.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
_The highly anticipated prequel to the
New York Times
bestselling Cirque Du Freak series!_
Before Cirque Du Freak...
Before the war with the vampaneze...
Before he was a vampire.
Larten Crepsley was a boy.
As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children.
In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it.
This is his story.
Copyright © 2010 by Darren Shan
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
First eBook Edition: October 2010
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
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Nick “The Blood Ninja” Lake
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“Are cobwebs a treat where you come from?”
When Larten Crepsley awoke and yawned one gray Tuesday morning, he had no idea that by midday he would have become a killer.
He lay on his bed of sacks packed with straw, staring at specks of dust drifting through the air. The house where he lived was cramped and dark, and the room where he slept never caught the sun except at dawn. He often woke a few minutes earlier than necessary, before his mother roared for the family to get up. It was his only quiet time of the day, his one chance to lie back idly and grin lazily at the world.
There were six children in the room, five of them snoring and shifting in their sleep. Larten came from
a crop of eight, but two had died young, and his eldest sister left a year ago to marry. Although she was only fourteen, Larten suspected their parents were glad to be rid of her—she had never been an especially hard worker and brought home little money.
“Up!” Larten’s mother roared from the room next to theirs, and pounded the thin wall a couple of times.
The children groaned and crawled out of bed. They bumped into one another as they tried to find their way to the bedpan, the older siblings cuffing their younger brothers and sisters. Larten lay where he was, smiling smugly. He had already done his business while everyone else was asleep.
Vur Horston shared the room with the five Crepsley children. Vur was a cousin of theirs. His parents had died when he was three years old, his father in an accident at work, his mother of some disease. Larten’s mother had been keeping a close watch on the sickly widow and moved in quickly to take the baby. An extra pair of hands was always useful. The boy would be a burden for a few years, but children that age didn’t eat much, and, assuming Vur survived, he could be put to work young and earn his foster parents a nice little income.
Larten felt closer to Vur than to any of his real siblings. Larten had been in the kitchen when his
mother brought the silent, solemn boy home. After giving Vur some bread soaked in milk–a rare treat–she’d stuck him by Larten’s side and told her son to look after the waif and keep him out of her way.
Larten had eyed the newcomer suspiciously, jealous of the gift his mother had given the stranger. In return, Vur had stared at Larten innocently, then tore the bread down the middle and offered his cousin the bigger half. They had been best friends ever since.
“Up!” Larten’s mother roared again, slamming the wall just once this time. The children blinked the last traces of sleep from their eyes and quickly threw on their clothes. She would come crashing in on them soon, and if they weren’t dressed and ready to go, her fists would fly.
“Vur,” Larten murmured, nudging his cousin in the ribs.
“I’m awake,” Vur replied, turning to show Larten his smile.
“Don’t you need to go?” Larten asked.
“I’m bursting,” Vur giggled.
“Hurry up!” Larten shouted at one of his younger sisters, who was squatting over the bedpan as if she owned it.
“Go in the bed if you’re that desperate,” she jeered.
“You might as well,” Larten said to Vur. It wasn’t uncommon for them to wet the bed—the great thing about straw was that it dried swiftly.
“No,” Vur said, gritting his teeth. “I can wait.”
Larten’s clothes were on the floor next to the bed. He pulled them on, not removing the thin vest that he slept in. Larten’s mother was an orderly woman. She did the family laundry every other Sunday. All the children had to wait in their beds, naked beneath the covers, until their clothes were returned. Then they would wear them without changing for the next fortnight.
Larten’s sister finished on the bedpan. Before his youngest brother could claim it, Larten darted across the room, snatched it, and passed it to Vur, careful not to spill the contents.
“My hero,” Vur laughed, loosely aiming with one hand while he rubbed yellow crust from his eyes with the other.
Although Vur was Larten’s age, he was much smaller—a thin, weak, mild-mannered boy. He seldom fought for anything, happy to go without if he was challenged. Larten often stood up for his cousin, even though Vur never asked for help.
“What’s keeping you?” Larten’s mother screeched, sticking her head in and glaring at the children.
“Coming!” they roared, and those nearest to her
ducked through the doorway, even if they weren’t finished dressing.
“Vur!” she yelled.
“Just a second!” he panted, straining to finish.
Larten’s mother squinted at the boy, deciding whether or not to punish him. In the end she just sniffed and withdrew. Larten sighed happily. He didn’t mind when she hit him–he could take a fierce whipping–but he hated it when she hurt Vur. Larten’s father almost never struck the frail orphan, but his wife whacked him as much as the others. They were all equal in her eyes.
When Vur was finished with the bedpan, Larten tossed his clothes at him and hurried down the stairs to the crowded kitchen, where his brothers and sisters were already making short work of breakfast.
There was never much to eat, and those who grabbed first got the most. Their father, who’d shuffled off to work three hours earlier, had generously left some strips of pigs’ ears for them—he always shared what he could with his family. The older children seized upon the gristly treats with excitement. By the time Larten and Vur arrived, the strips were gone, and they had to make do with stale bread and watery porridge.
Larten tore bread from the fingers of his eldest brother–they were slippery from the grease of a pig’s
ear–and passed it to Vur, laughing as he bobbed out of the way of his brother’s swinging fist. Taking a couple of small, chipped bowls, he dipped them into the pot of porridge, filled them to the top, and hurried to where Vur was waiting by the back door. He licked drips from the sides as he crossed the room, eager not to waste any.
They ate in silence, chewing the crust of the dry bread as if it were meat, using the rest to soak up the watery porridge. Larten was quicker than Vur and managed to refill his bowl before the pot was scraped bare. He ate half and saved the rest for his cousin.
It was cold and raining outside, but the kitchen was cozy. His mother hadn’t lit the fire–she’d do that in the evening, when she returned from work–but the tiny room was always warm, especially with so many bodies crammed into it.
“Move on!” Larten’s mother yelled, coming down the stairs. She belted those closest to her and waved a hand threateningly at the others. “Do you think I’ve nothing better to do than stand here watching you eat all day? Out!”
Still chewing and gulping, the children filed out into the yard, leaving their mother to mop up after them before setting off for the first of the four inns where she cleaned.
There were two barrels of water in the yard—one for drinking, the other for washing. The Crepsley children rarely bothered with the latter barrel, but Vur went to it every morning to scrub the dirt from his face and neck. Larten had tried talking him out of his peculiar habit–the boy would shiver for half an hour on a bone-chilling morning like this–but Vur would only smile, nod, and do it again the next day.