Darren Shan (who shares a name with the book’s writer) is an ordinary teenager with an ordinary family who with not-so-ordinary classmate Steve Leopard (Josh Hutcherson of Journey to the Center of the Earth). Steve tries to distract himself from his abusive family by obsessing over vampires, but when that doesn’t work he cuts class and vandalises the school building. Still he is Shan’s (secret) best friend, so the two of them are excited for a night at the Cirque Du Freak. Unfortunately, Darren recently joined Steve on one of those afore-mentioned school day escapades, so he is grounded and banned from speaking to Leopard. In spite of the rule, the two hop on their bikes one fateful night and go to the show. It is far better than they expected—the Freaks seem like they are really magic. Darren is a little upset though when he finds out Steve thinks the circus spider-tamer Mr. Crepsley is a real vampire. He is more surprised when he overhears Crepsley admitting to really being a vampire seconds before Steve bursts in and asks to become one as well. Crepsley denies Steve those abilities, though, saying he would abuse them. However, the next day Steve is bitten by Crepsley’s spider, all because Darren stole it. Crepsley agrees to save Steve under one condition—Darren becomes a vampire and serves as Crepsley’s assistant in the job that Steve had dreamed of. The adventure is brought to fever pitch when a war breaks out between the good, non-murderous, vampires and the evil Vampaneze.