Fiction Review

Procession of the Dead

(2008) D. B. Shan, Voyager, 10.00, pbk, 312pp, ISBN 978-0-007-26130-7

This is a revised edition of the book which first appeared in 1999 under the title Ayuamarca: Procession of the Dead. Darren Shan is probably better known as the author of two popular children's series, The Saga of Darren Shan and The Demonata. Clearly this revised, 'director's cut' edition is itself intended as a start to a new series, as the book is subtitled The City: Book One. On the strength of this book, I have to say up front that I will not be seeking out subsequent volumes...

It concerns one Capac Raimi who travels to the City in order to become a gangster with his uncle Theo. But the City is run by the Cardinal and he quickly eliminates Theo and most of his gang, recruiting Capac along the way. At first all seems well enough, given Capac's goals, but soon doubts and questions start to creep in. Why can't he remember anything about himself before he arrived in the City? Why do acquaintances and friends keep disappearing without a trace, and why do their friends and relatives refuse to acknowledge that they ever existed? What is the Cardinal up to, and just what is his hold on the City? And so on. When Capac becomes aware of a list of names, including his own and some of the missing persons, referred to as Ayuamarcans, he rebels against the Cardinal and sets out to find some answers...

All of which plods on with a dreary inevitability to an unimaginative conclusion. Most of the time I was reading this, I thought I was, in fact, reading a children's novel. Children with incredibly low standards at that. Not that any of that should worry Shan (or Voyager); he has long since gained millions of readers and has been translated into twenty languages, so someone out there clearly likes him! I'm just not one of them. Therefore, not a personal recommendation.

Tony Chester

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