The second book in Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak series picks up exactly where the first ended. Young Darren has been taken in by Larton Crepsley to be trained as a vampire's assistant. Darren has difficulty coming to terms with his new existence (half-vampire) and with having to leave everything he's ever known behind. However, Mr. Crepsley decides that they should rejoin the Cirque Du Freak, which is great for Darren. He makes some new friends, including Ezra Von, the snake boy. Unfortunately, danger and mystery are still in the mix for Darren--Mr. Tiny and his carnivorous "Little People" are disquieting at best, and it turns out that having normal human friends can prove more challenging that Darren originally realized. The ending of the book is both surprising and disturbing.
I like this one better than the first--it is less exposition and more action, in my opinion. Sometimes Darren comes close to "Harry Potter in #5 unbearably whiny" levels, but the author manages to pull him back to humor most of the time. The side characters are great, and the atmosphere of the Cirque itself really adds to the interest. If you were sort of on the fence about the first one, I recommend trying this and seeing if you end up with a definite opinion. I am not rabid for more (it's no Sookie book, after all) but I certainly look forward to the next installment.