Book Reviews

Book Review: Procession of the Dead

Renowned children’s author Darren Shan, offers books for grown-ups under the name Darren Dash. If you grew up with Shan, you’ll be happy to know that you can still read his books today. Procession of the Dead being on of his books aimed at older readers.

I was beyond happy to stumble across a copy the first of The City trilogy, in my favourite little second hand bookshop. Reading his grown-up books felt like coming home.

procession of the dead

What Procession of the Dead is about:

The story follows Capac Rami who moves to The City to become a gangster under the wing of his uncle. This City doesn’t have a president or a mayor but the ever ruling Cardinal. This is immediately a figure the reader and Rami are taken by. Rami’s training with his uncle is cut short and he goes from small time gangster to worker of the Cardinal. However, there’s something strange going on that we can’t put our finger on. Who was Rami before The City? Why do people keep disappearing? And how did this egregious leader come to be?

The tale unfolds in a deeply sinister fashion and nothing is what it seems to be. Rami must decide to climb the ranks to success and glory to perhaps follow in the Cardinals footsteps, or the sacrifice everything he’s earned for the truth. The beautiful thing about Shan is you can never predict the ending or what will happen next, and this remains the case with Procession of the Dead. It seemed to point in several different directions, and even offer various solutions but like always, the outcome is something that never crossed your mind.

What I thought:

I initially found it a little hard to get into, but that’s perhaps because I’m used to magic or vampires, and this doesn’t have all that. However, the supernatural does feature but in a pleasantly surprising and intriguing way.

I enjoyed the clever usage of the Incan language in the novel, which nicely tied together a key revelation. The novel is quite dark and even unsettling at times but I still couldn’t put it down.

There is so much I want to say but can’t for fear of spoiling the whole plot and ending. So go read this so I’ll have someone to rant to!

If you like this, you might also enjoy his work for older readers such as Molls like it Hot, Sunburn and Midsummer’s Bottom.  You can find the rest of the City trilogy here.

Why I loved this find:

I adored Darren Shan in my teenage years. To say I was obsessed with the Saga of Darren Shan would be an understatement. Unfortunately, as most of Shan’s work is aimed at younger readers, I came to out grow it. However, all along Darren Shan remained the author than inspired me the most when it comes to writing and creativity. I haven’t found another (because there will never be a replacement – but Stephen King sort of fills the void to some degree) who has impacted me like he has. No one else has had me physically put the book down, pace my room with my hands on my head and say “He did not just do that!” over and over again. Shan always planted discreet clues which later became hugely significant and have you going back though the book thinking “you smart fucker” and as far as plot twists goes no one does them like he does. I’m already digressing here, but I felt Darren Shan deserved that little anecdote.

As much as I’m enjoying his grown-up books, I love a good old supernatural tale from him for grown-ups!

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