DARREN – THE DARREN SHAN SAGA BOOK 9. – KILLERS OF THE DAWN. 2003 Harper-Collins.
Taking up from the cliffhanger ending of book eight, we join Darren and his vampire allies as they flee from the pursuing Vampaneze. They have Steve, and a Vampet (Human servant of the Vampaneze) as hostages, but they are attacked anyway. Seeking refuge in Steve’s apartment, they torture and kill the Vampet, but before they can interrogate Steve, the police and the army surround them. An escape attempt fails. Only Vasha the Vampire escapes, taking a female gun toting police chief hostage in the process. . Darren, Mr. Crepsley and Harkut the dwarf are taken to the police station. Darren is interrogated, and accused of the murders committed by the Vampaneze. He plans to escape, which is helped when Steve, only a supposed wounded witness to the crimes, kills several policemen and women and stages an escape of his own. Darren and Mr. Crepsley and Harkut escape, but they find no sanctuary. Vampaneze guards the tunnels. Police are everywhere. As it is daylight, Mr. Crepsley is in danger of burning in the Sun. Police helicopters, and the Sun itself prevent them hiding on the roofs. Darren robs a shop to get some sun tan lotion to protect Mr. Crepsley’s face. In doing so, he is spotted by the public who have been shown media images of the fugitives. They now have an angry mob on their tale too. They flee to an old grain silo, and then as darkness falls, they attack the tunnels again. Vasha who has found them some weapons now rejoins them. He still has the policewoman as a hostage. As the Vampaneze surround them, she realises that the vampires are not as evil as she thought. She joins their side, even targeting a policeman who has served as a Vampet. Darren is challenged to a fight to the death against the Vampaneze Messiah, but he must also fight Steve, and another vampire ate same time. The humans are promised freedom if he wins, but they are forbidden the right to intervene. Mr. Crepsley beats the Vampaneze leader, throwing him to his death in a fiery pit filled with spikes, but Steve pushes Crepsley in after him. Darren writes how Crepsley was saved at the last minute as a vampire army arrived to save the day. Darren then backtracks to tell us shockingly that this wished for ending never came. Mr. Crepsley died in agony worse, as the vampires and their friend’s retreat, Steve tells Darren a horrible secret – the man Crepsley killed was a decoy. Steve himself is the real Vampaneze messiah. The book ends as the army’s part, with indications of further conflict to come in book ten, The Lake Of Souls. The double take of the tragedy coming just as we are led to think Crepsley was safe is brilliant in its effectiveness. www.darrrenshan.com
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