I adored Darren Shan in my teenage years, to say I was obsessed with the Saga of Darren Shan would be an understatement and over 5 years later I don’t believe I’ve recovered from The Demonata series. 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.
I was beyond happy to stumble across a copy of Procession of the Dead, the first of The City trilogy, in my favourite little second hand bookshop (I like to brag about being from the same place as Darren Shan) and finally getting around to reading one of his books for adults (others are published under the name Darren Dash) was like coming home again.
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. 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.
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!