Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Date Published: February 9 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia – Macmillan’s Children’s Books
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 bodes 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’m participating in a Blog Tour hosted by Pan Macmillan and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own **
Trigger warnings: minor scenes with parental abuse and suicide
I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading Freeks. I’d put it off for so long because of a slump and for some reason I was in the mind frame that I might not have enjoyed it a great deal because I’m always skeptical when it comes to Paranormal Romances unless you’re Meg Cabot. I’d never read anything by Amanda Hocking either so I had no idea what to expect.
I started Freeks yesterday and finished it this morning. I literally couldn’t put it down. I practically devoured it. I woke up at 3am and instead of even trying to go back to sleep I picked it back up. With short chapters and fast pacing it was like a dream come true for me.
Despite the fast pacing, I was still able to get a really good visual of the setting and characters. I feel like some of the characters weren’t really fleshed out and just kind of existed when the main character, Mara, needed them too. They were all still really interesting though. The book is set in the 80s and I loved all the pop culture references. I was born in 1990, but I’ve always felt a huge connection to the 80s so I really loved that!
Mara, a necromancer, was a likable protagonist, she suffered a bit with cliches and tropes but it’s not like I hated being in her head. The romance between her and the love interest, Gabe, wasn’t really something I, personally, connected with. It wasn’t really instalove, but it all happened so quickly and within a week they were like ready to spend their lives together. I know this can happen in real life so that’s why it’s more of a personal thing. I get that romances in standalones have to happen a lot quicker than series, but it just didn’t come across for me. Gabe is kinda your stereotypical Bad Boy But Not Really With a Dark Secret love interest. He was decent enough though and like with Mara I didn’t hate him.
One of the main reasons I was worried about Freeks is because I’m not a fan of people with disabilities or deformities being used as props or as public spectacles. Freak Shows have never sat right with me because real people have been treated awfully by them. However, with Freeks no one is being used. They’re just a group of people owning their differences, supporting each other, and using their abilities how they want to. The leader of group, the psychic Gideon (who I may or may not have a crush on 👀👀👀) always makes sure everyone knows that they’re free to leave whenever they want. People are here because they want to be, not because they’re being forced. Another thing I LOVED was that “Gypsy” was never used to describe Mara or her mother. There were also a lot of characters of color. Mara was a POC. There was also a gay side couple.
Whilst I did get through Freeks insanely fast I can’t ignore all the tropes, cliches and eyerolling moments within it. One of the things that bothered me the most was how against everyone was by the idea that something supernatural was what was terrorising the carnival. Like, you’re literally a bunch of people with supernatural abilities but the idea of a monster being real is unbelievable? Then later on it was revealed that werewolves and vampires are a part of this world so that made me even more confused. Certain things also just felt WAY too convenient.
Overall, Freeks was an insanely fast and fun read. You really got the atmospheric vibe of the small town and travelling carnival. It was slightly creepy and the mystery kept me reading. There was just a few too many tropes used for me to feel comfortable giving this anything over 3 stars. It just didn’t feel polished enough. I do however think it would make a really cool TV show!
“The sun had begun its descent toward the horizon, and the sounds of the carnival played like a familiar song behind me.”