Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan
When Darren Shan and his friends find a flyer advertising the gruesome sideshow Cirque Du Freak, the snakeboy, wolf-man, and giant spider all fall into the realm of what they expected. What they didn’t expect is that the spider’s tamer, one Larten Crepsley, is a vampire. Darren kidnaps the poisonous spider, Madame Octa, and takes her home. He only has himself to blame when she attacks his best friend, and Darren is forced to become a half-vampire, assistant to the vampire himself.
Gruesome, fast-moving plot, but the characters are all kind of flat. The first of a series–it’s pretty popular with gr5-8 boys. I picked up the second one at the library today, and will give it a shot, but probably won’t keep going after that.