Edgar Brim is a sensitive orphan who, exposed to horror stories from his father as a young child, is afraid of almost everything and suffers from nightly terrors. Unsurprisingly, being sent to a gloomy school in Scotland where he is roundly bullied does not help. At age 16 he finds a journal belonging to his novelist father, which inspires him to stand up to his bullies. At the urging of a mysterious professor, he becomes a member of an eccentric society which believes that monsters from works of famous literature are real. Unfortunately, this only adds to his fears.