Darren Shan's book came as a complete surprise to me. I have not read a vampire book since a condensed version of Darcula in the 1950s, although I did enjoy Buffy... and Charmed when they were on TV. Consequently, I did not know what to expect.
This version of Shan's writing included "Trials of Death" and "The Vampire Prince", books 5 and 6 of the Cirque du Freak series. "Trials of Death" in particular, reminded me somewhat of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". These books are aimed at older children/young adults and as such I found them very entertaining, vastly different from my previous impressions of vampire stories. Putting these two books together was a good move as they can be read as one story. There are, as far as I know, 12 books in the series. I think Shan (who writes the stories with himself as the main character and in the first person) has a wonderful understanding of what young people like in a story. There is a lot of action, interaction, communication, and relationships. Putting the book down was very difficult, I kept coming back for more. I certainly recommend the series to young people who enjoy fantasy books.