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Darren ShanDarren was always fascinated by spiders. When he was young, he used to bring spiders from the garden and let them loose in his house, and at the age of 9, he received the greatest gift of his life: a small tarantula. However, the joy of that gift was crushed when he, after watching a cartoon, killed the spider with a vacuum cleaner. For this reason, Darren makes the statement that life, unlike a cartoon, is naturally evil, doesn't care about happy endings, and is always out to kill you. You just have to be careful.
When Alan brings a paper advertising a Freak Show, they face off for the tickets(they are only given two by the sales person), and Steve and Darren are the lucky ones. They go to the freak show, but Steve finds out that one of the performers, the spider-wielding Mr. Crepsley, is a vampire. Shocked to know that Steve wants to be a vampire (and that Steve has evil blood), Darren flees home. That conflict is put aside, as Darren then realizes that he can in fact own Madam Octa, Mr. Crepsley's deadly performing spider.
Darren steals Madam Octa the spider from the Cirque du Freak and develops a telepathic connection with her. However, when he is demonstrating his control over her to his best friend Steve Leopard, his sister Annie startles him, and his control over her is lost, giving Madam Octa the chance to bite Steve. He goes to hospital but none of the doctors can figure out what type of poison it is. Darren goes to Mr. Crepsley for the cure and the vampire gives Darren an offer: Darren must become his assistant and he will help Steve to survive. Darren agrees and is blooded by Mr. Crepsley. He fakes his own death and leaves his hometown to follow his life as a vampire.
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