Teenager Darren Shan is an excellent student and the pride and joy of his perfect middle-class family; his best friend is the reckless Steve. When they receive a flyer with an advertisement for a freak show, they sneak to the theater to see the attractions. The ringmaster is a vampire called Larten Crepsley, that has a lethal spider. After the show, Steve tells Darren to go home. However he returns and overhears Steve unsuccessfully trying to convince Larten to transform him into a vampire. Darren steals Larten's spider which bites Steve later and he seeks out Larten asking for an antidote for his friend. Larten proposes a deal to Darren.