As anyone who knows me will tell you, I LOVE magical-realism and circus books – so it’s no wonder that I was eager to pick up Amanda Hocking’s Freeks before its release to see if it combined the two as anticipated.
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.
When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.
But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.
I mean, come on, doesn’t that just SOUND amazing? I’m a huge fan of books like Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber’s upcoming Caraval, and Freeks is billed immediately as being a very similar kind of story, but with a more thrilling mystery twist. I was more than a little eager to dive in.
I’m happy to report that on many levels, Freeks comes through – the traveling
circus *I mean* sideshow aspects were awesome… I loved learning about Mara and her companions, and all of their special abilities. It was interesting to see the direction Hocking takes the sideshow – instead of being revered for their “magical” abilities (as the performers in The Night Circus are), Mara’s companions are ridiculed and considered “freeks” for what they can do. I’ve never really understood why anyone would want to go to a sideshow just to ridicule people who are different, so I was intrigued to get more of that point of view here.
This book also has a very dark atmosphere. While I’m usually a fan of lighter reads, I have to say that the atmosphere really adds to Freeks – it keeps you guessing the entire time about what really is going on in this crazy little town. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and how little I had figured out by the time the truth was revealed at the end.
Honestly, the biggest downside for me was the insta-love romance between Mara and Gabe. I’m not even a huge insta-love hater (there are some cases where I will accept it in a story), but in this case I was not buying it AT ALL. I found myself wanting to skim through all of their many, many, MANY kissing scenes to get to the meat of the story. For some I don’t think this will be a problem, but the romance here really detracted from all of the much-cooler elements at play in this book.
If you are looking for something a little edgy and a little “out there” for your next read, Freeks is a great choice!
Rating: 4/5 stars