When mysterious Vampire General Gavner Purl turns up at the Cirque looking for Mr. Crepsley, he has some unpleasant news that will take him away from the Cirque, and though he doesn't want to - Larten decides he must take Darren with him in case he may be in need of help. After Darren squabbles about it, as any lonely young person may, Mr. Crepsley asks him if he might like Evra Von; the snake-boy to come with them. Evra agrees, and once they spend some time in the city, Darren makes a (sort of) girlfriend in Debbie Hemlock. Things go great for Darren and Evra in the city until they see a news report on television, about a group of bodies found in an abandoned building, all drained of their blood. Darren and Evra are shocked, and don't know what to do - especially since Mr. Crepsley had been acting strange and secretive since they had arrived, going out alone every night not telling the boys a thing about what he'd been up to.
This book had quite a different feeling for me while reading; I'm pretty sure it was the prologue that set the tone for me. While I still felt like I was with an old friend, it was not like we were catching up, it was like I was there with him for every event, experiencing every single little detail for myself right along with Darren. Feeling his unhappiness, his fear, his pain, and his relief.
Speaking of relief, I especially felt it during a big scene in the book, which I will try my best not to spoil, but I was so glad that Darren did not...hit his mark. Somehow I just knew that Mr. Crepsley was not at fault for what Darren believed him to be, and I am happy that he and Darren were finally about to work on trusting one another. I think they needed something big like that for that door to be opened. Something unavoidable and with an underlying urgency to get them through it and onto the next steps in doing so, quickly.
In this story the reader is also introduced to a Vampaneze. All I will say about him is that I found him to be a truly ugly creature, and I think that calling him crazy would be a bit of an understatement. If I lived in Darren's world I would never want to run into one, not even if I felt the way Mr. Crepsley did about them. I guess I could kind of understand what he was trying to relate to Darren, but I think that level of understanding has to grow with time.
And, naturally, speaking of growing, I know Darren changed more in this book, too. I know he's faced some ugliness in the past, but I think this was a true test for him. But not only for Darren, for Larten as well - not only did he have to make a decision about the Vampaneze, he had to get Darren's trust in some way and be able to return it.
Other cover love: