Shan, Darren. Birth of a Killer.Little, Brown & Company, October 2010.
So begins Larten Crepsley’s meeting with the mysterious Seba Nile, a meeting that sets Larten on the path to becoming a vampire. How did Larten come to be hiding in a crypt, eating cobwebs when he had started the day as a child laborer, not so different from all of the other children he knew?
The day started as any other, with Larten rising early to have a few moments of peace before his mother’s yells woke his siblings and cousin, Vur. After a hurried breakfast of watery porridge, Larten and Vur headed to work at a silk factory run by the cruel foreman Traz. But Larten’s world was turned upside down when Traz, in a fit of temper, killed Vur. In a haze of despair and anger, Larten struck back, killing Traz. Forced to flee the city with no supplies, Larten sought shelter from a storm in the only dry place he could find, a crypt. Little did he expect that someone, or something, else had already sought refuge there.
Birth of a Killer chronicles Larten’s experiences first as a vampire’s assistant, including his own introduction to the Cirque du Freak, and later as a new vampire. The action moves quickly, often skipping ahead years. Readers looking for an in depth examination of life as a vampire’s assistant may be disappointed as the book moves from highlight to highlight, focusing on milestones in Larten’s journeys. After all, the author has 200 years to cover in just four books.
Shan’s vampires are violent creatures of the night, yet this book stops short of being a true horror story. Fans of the Cirque du Freak series will consider this prequel a must-read. But Birth of a Killer stands on its own and those who have not read the original series will still enjoy this story of dark beings of the night.