Author: Amanda Hocking
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Press/Griffin Teen
DISCLAIMER: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, there may be some spoilers in this review, so proceed with caution.
Amanda Hocking is back with her novel Freeks, a look at a traveling sideshow in the 1980's. Mara and her mother have been part of Gideon's traveling sideshow for Mara's entire life. Mara's mother is a necromancer, something that was passed to her from Mara's grandmother and great-grandmother. Mara thinks the world of necromancy has passed her over, and that she is "normal." Turns out, she's wrong.
Anyway, I'm jumping ahead a little. The book starts with the traveling sideshow rolling into Caudry, a little town with some mystery and magic that nobody can quite explain! On the first night they arrive in town, Mara decides to go out and explore. She happens across this mansion where a party is being thrown by Selena, her boyfriend Logan, and her brother Gabe. Selena and Gabe live with their parents in this really rather extravagant house for such a small family - and Gabe, from what I gather, feels discontent about that fact. The reason he and Selena continue to live at home, however, is because of a family secret passed down through their mother's family (don't worry - I won't give that secret away! I want you to have some surprises when you read the book.) Anyway, Mara and Gabe end up spending the night making out in Gabe's room, then continue to spend time together throughout the week, even though Mara knows she shouldn't get attached to a stranger. Throughout the book, strange things start to happen, and people in the sideshow start getting attacked at night by something that looks like a shadow.
To make a long story short: a bunch of characters end up in the hospital, or dead, and the creature finally gets taken down in the end.
So, let's talk about the one thing I thought was weird about the book. Gabe and Mara making out on the FIRST NIGHT THEY MET!
I mean, I do think they could have had some attraction to each other the first night they met, but to jump from attraction to a full scale make out session in one night just felt wrong. I know Mara was only in Caudry for a week, but they could have used that time to get to know each other a little before making out. Then, there was the fact that by the end of the week they were having sex with each other - that was wild. I mean, they have needs, sure, but in the conversations they had with each other during their nightly dates, I felt like they didn't really get to know each other.
Now, to be completely honest, I didn't 5 star love this book. It was probably a 3 star read for me. BUT, there were things I liked, enough that I would recommend the book.
1. The idea of a traveling side show - I mean who doesn't love a good sideshow?! It felt reminiscent of AHS: Freak Show.
2. The fact that each section was prefaced with a tarot card was awesome. I loved it.
3. I think the author does a good job of delving into what life is like when your on the road all the time. There is a unique opportunity to meet new people, but you don't really get the chance to develop real connections with those people. Hocking does a good job of showing what it's like when your only real connections are the people you travel with.
Since the book only spans the space of a week, there wasn't much character growth or development. I think that was okay for a book like this, because it did span such a short time period. Each character was their own unique person, though, and that was good.
I feel like there was just enough tension in the story to keep me reading. Their probably could have been a bit more by way of dramatic events, considering that people were getting injured left and right, but the book wasn't completely lacking with tension.
Overall, if you like books about sideshows and carnies, with some mystery and love thrown in, Freeks is a book you'll want to check out.