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3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  336 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
The Freaks are a band of misfits, trapped in a nightly Victorian sideshow. There’s Wolf-girl, Sheba, with her amazing sense of smell; Sister Moon, who can move at the speed of light; and Monkey Boy, ace climber and human stink bomb. But during the day, the Freaks decide to put their extraordinary talents to use. And in a world of child-snatchers, grave robbers and dastardl ...more
Paperback, 243 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Chicken House
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The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. VaughanThe House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
41st out of 365 books — 727 voters
The Jupiter Chronicles by Leonardo RamirezThe Flight To Brassbright by Lori Alden HolutaThe Peculiar by Stefan BachmannLarklight by Philip ReeveFreaks by Kieran Larwood
Children's Steampunk
5th out of 13 books — 33 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 953)
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One Sentence Review: It definitely has its moments and there are elements at work that could be keen, but ultimately I wasn't a fan of some of the racial elements (one character seems to be a "freak" simply because she's Asian) and some of the plotting bordered on the rote.
Pop Bop
Apr 22, 2014 Pop Bop rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Way Better Than Expected

Between a blurb that promised a cross between "X-Men" and "Oliver Twist" and the dismissive review from School Library Journal, (does anyone else notice how snotty the SLJ reviews can be?), I didn't expect a lot from this effort. I was wrong.

Sure the premise is a stretch. Sideshow "freaks" with weird talents run around Victorian London foiling bad guys. What you don't expect is the good writing, gentle humor and air of grim hopefulness that underlies the action.

We start w
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
In the book world, this was to me what Hotel Transylvania was in the movie world - a gigantic disappointment. I went into this book wanting so much for it to be something that I could enjoy, with character development and interesting, fresh plot executions. That is not what I got. The main character Sheba is a wolf-girl, longing for a family but who can only remember a life of being passed from one freak show to another - being someone's property. It is different this time, with her new owner p ...more
Leonie Byrne
Apr 29, 2013 Leonie Byrne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Another book I read as part of the Rotherham Children's book awards and another I really enjoyed. The ideas were new and as far as I know haven't been done before. Sheba is a wolf girl covered head to toe with fur, sharp little fangs and even sharper claws she was bought from the workhouse by a sideshow owner Mr Grunchgirdle kept in a cage with the other 'freaks' a stuffed squirrel with a fish tail where it's legs should be and a two headed lamb Sheba dreams about what her life could have been l ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Lobo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A regény megfelelően fordulatos és izgalmas és Sába alakja nagyon jól összetartja a történetet, elvégre ő az egész szíve és lelke. Kicsit meglepődtem a könyv felénél, amikor kiderült, hogy hány éves, mert idősebbnek gondoltam, ugyanakkor rájöttem, hogy jó helyre van pozicionálva: már megvan a magához való esze és jól felismeri a helyzeteket. Kicsit persze kalandvágyóbb és meggondolatlanabb a kelleténél (többször is ezért kerül veszélybe), de ha nem lenne az, akkor nem lenne katalizátora a történ ...more
Roark Anderson
Aug 08, 2014 Roark Anderson rated it really liked it
I've see a few reviews that were much to harsh in my opinion of this book and those who did in fact enjoy it. Paranormal and Victorian London go together very well and this book also had a very cool description of the London Exhibition. In a world that I would say is almost steampunk, Sheba and her friends from the freak show tackle the job of solving a mystery that no one else cares to solve. Fast paced and well written this is definitely a book I would recommend. Also two thumbs up to the auth ...more
Apr 11, 2016 D.L. rated it it was ok
I read the other day that researchers determined Harry Potter readers have more compassion for people from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. I think to a certain extent this book would serve as an example to those economic differences and teaching that tolerance. But there are some sketchy ethnic tropes in this story that really are distracting for Harry Potter readers.
A very enjoyable book!

This is a fun story, that many children will enjoy (and adults, who like reading children's books!)
I really liked reading about Victorian London, and through the eyes of these 'freaks' in their sideshow attraction. Also loved having the 'mud-larks', as they are something which I have taught through my Victorian topic.

The mystery is well told, and compelling to read. It makes you very curious to know all about the machines and The Thames and the mud-larks and how it all ties
Helen Goddard
Mar 05, 2015 Helen Goddard rated it really liked it
A cracking read that fires the imagination! From the opening scene, this tale grips the reader through a constant appeal to the senses. The almost-to-be-expected Dickensian sights and sounds of early Victorian London are portrayed with relish, but more unusually, the author is also able to summon up vivid and unpleasant smells from the bustle of life on the margins.

The plot romps along at a satisfying pace, taking the humorously well-drawn characters into a rescue attempt that leads to deeper,
Kane Gu
Mar 09, 2014 Kane Gu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I went to my local book fair and saw this book and decided to give it a try. The story is about Sheba, a girl born with wolf-like features. All her life, Sheba has been working for a poor man in a run down side show. That all changes when she is bought by another sideshow manager. There, she meets other freaks, Sister Moon, MonkeyBoy, Gigantus, and Mama Rat. They move to London, where Sheba and the Freaks encounter children stealing crooks. Its up to the Freaks to defeat them and rescue the chil ...more
Feb 04, 2014 Aleshanee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

London 1851: Sie sind die einzige Hoffnung für die Kinder, die unter mysteriösen Umständen in der Themse verschwinden. Nachts treten sie als schaurige Attraktionen in einer Freakshow auf. Aber bei Tage ermitteln sie. Und bald finden Sheba, das Wolfsmädchen, Sister Moon, die schneller ist als der Blitz, der Riese Gigantus und Monkeyboy, die menschliche Stinkbombe, eine erste Spur. Doch wer ist der geheimnisvolle Fremde, der die Freaks plötzlich verfolgt? Was haben Baupläne für eine Mas
jv poore
A delightfully charming read, brimming with genuinely unique characters, who stumble onto an epic mystery and later embark on a fabulously frightening, daring adventure to solve it; with the entire tale brilliantly set in London, in 1851.

The most unlikely of pals, our cast of characters have been tossed together due to circumstances far beyond their control. Despite the vast differences among them, and deplorable living conditions; they offer support and form a formidable team.

Sheba, the sweet
Mar 04, 2015 Emmie rated it really liked it

Freaks: at night they're a Victorian sideshow. But by day they re the most unusual crime fighters ever. Some just laugh and say they re weird. But for London s stolen children they re the only hope. Meet Sheba, the Wolf Girl; Sister Moon, faster than the eye can see; and Monkeyboy, the human stink bomb...

An amazing, action-filled adventure from award-winning author Kieran Larwood.
2012 Kieran Larwood ; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

My review:

This was a fascinating book. It was an enlightening lo
May 13, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tween readers
Sheba was orphaned by her parents, and she believed it was because they were ashamed of her furry face and body, amber colored eyes, claw like nails, and extraordinary sense of smell. Sheba was dubbed the Wolfgirl; and her days were spent locked away in a cage as an exhibit for a seaside Freakshow called Grunchgirdle’s World of Curiosities. Sheba’s only friend was a two-headed sheep named Flossy. The World of Curiosities was experiencing a dry spell; there had not been any visitors in four mouth ...more
London 1851: Sie sind die einzige Hoffnung für die Kinder, die unter mysteriösen Umständen in der Themse verschwinden. Nachts treten sie als schaurige Attraktionen in einer Freakshow auf. Aber bei Tage ermitteln sie. Und bald finden Sheba, das Wolfsmädchen, Sister Moon, die schneller ist als der Blitz, der Riese Gigantus und Monkeyboy, die menschliche Stinkbombe, eine erste Spur. Doch wer ist der geheimnisvolle Fremde, der die Freaks plötzlich verfolgt? Was haben Baupläne für eine Maschine in Kr ...more
Julianna Helms
Full review: This will be posted on my blog at 12AM PST on January 31st, 2013,
Set in Victorian England during the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, this book offers some insight into the fate of those who were poor or considered different from others. The story centers around Sheba, a girl whose features become furry and wolf-like when she is angry. Sheba is purchased from her owner, a fisherman who earns extra cash by showing off the freaks he possesses, by another man who lives in London and has several freaks who do his bidding. Not surprisingly, Sheba discovers that her ...more
Although my library categorizes this one as YA, I think it more readily fits in with middle-grade fiction - the toilet humor and predictable plot are more in line with what I would expect a younger audience would prefer.

I wanted to like this book. Its setting and the carnival-sideshow themes were really appealing and seemed to offer plenty of room for character development, and I thought it really would be more of a mystery book than it was. Unfortunately, we're stuck with a cute wolfgirl with
Feb 25, 2013 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted for the Mackin Books in Bloom Blog located at

There are a lot of great new books out there. I am always amazed at the variety and diversity of books for kids; it seems that there is something for everyone. However, I sometimes get jaded with media, as it seems like everything is too derivative of something else. I like things that are unique, that haven’t been overdone.

A few things about Freaks piqued my interest and assured me that it would be unique
Mar 07, 2013 Slmstanley rated it it was amazing
The ARC of this book that I received had a different cover (one I liked a lot better, actually.) The work itself is on the list of my favorite YA titles I've read so far this year.

Don't be fooled by the cover and title that this is another of those 'high school outcast' books. It's anything but. Freaks is the story of Sheba, wolf-girl and real-life freak. She lives in a cage in a tiny seaside town, with a two-headed lamb as her only friend. Though by day she's an exhibit in a small, sad freak s
Sep 17, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't judge a book by its cover...or a girl by her claws. Ever since she can remember, Sheba has been a freak in a tiny shack at the end of the Little Pilchton pier. People pay money, then come in and stare at her, seemingly unable to believe a girl can be covered in fur, or have claws and fangs. Her only company is a fake mermaid (a.k.a stuffed squirrel with a fish tail) and Flossy the two-headed lamb. In return for Sheba letting herself be gawked at, her horrible boss, Grunchgirdle, gives her ...more
„Freaks in geheimer Mission“ ist das Debüt von Kieran Larwood und kann sich durchaus sehen lassen!

Was ich mochte:
+ Schauplatz (London) und Zeit (1851, viktorianische Epoche) – mir sind noch nicht viele Jugendbücher untergekommen, die in dieser Zeit spielen (was aber daran liegen könnte, dass ich eigentlich lieber Fantasy lese :-)). London ist dreckig, laut, düster und doch faszinierend dargestellt und der Autor versteht es, ganz viel Atmosphäre aufzubauen und den Leser so richtig in eine vergang
Dec 30, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It held together well. Often with YA or J fiction, I want to throw the book against the wall because it is so, so, well, so many things can cause this reaction. The characters are not well fleshed out and/or do things that do not coincide with the traits they have been given so far. Or the world is poorly constructed. Or the language isn't interesting. I found this book handled all three of these elements well. Four stars because of the conclusion where the dastardly villain t ...more
Kim McGee
Apr 07, 2013 Kim McGee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here we are back in jolly old Victorian London for another historical mystery but this time it is with a twist - our cast of characters includes a strange group of freaks including Mama Rat and her band of furry performers, Gigantus, Sister Moon and her many knives, MonkeyBoy and Sheba the Wolf Girl. Together they make up a sideshow in the not so grand side of London but in their off hours they will stop at nothing to solve who or what is kidnapping the street urchin children from the mud of the ...more
Dec 22, 2013 Mia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not as pleased as I thought I would be. I am absolutely infatuated with wolves and werewolves alike, and enjoyed the fact that the main character, Sheba, is one herself. I also liked Sister Moon, a deadly female ninja, an acquaintance of Sheba and Monkeyboy, a kid that is true to his name. But I just didn't like the book overall. The whole idea just never caught my attention. A traveling freakshow trying to solve the crime of missing children. That get sucked into a riverbank of London. Exc ...more
I gave this an extra star because it is not often a debut author hits the right notes for kid readers. I can't wait to booktalk this to kids 10 and up.

Sheba the Wolf Girl is embraced by her new family of Victorian-era sideshow freaks. Each one of them has his or her own unique attributes and talents. I am especially fond of Monkey Boy who is clever and kindhearted under his rather stinky, naughty exterior. Sheba's nose guides us through the stench of Victorian London, giving readers a good sens
Cecilia Rodriguez
Mar 24, 2016 Cecilia Rodriguez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A steampunk style mystery with three very interisting characters. Sheba is the main character. Larwood includes historical facts at the end of the story along with illustrations of the featured characters. I believe there will be more stories featuring the same group.
Chacha Centeno
Oct 12, 2014 Chacha Centeno rated it it was amazing
Decided to read this book for a graduate school project and ended up being really pleased with it. Unexpectedly, it has a bit if steam punk and a whole lot of mystery. I found myself really curious about some of the unknown--to a point where I was asking those around me to guess what the outcome would be. A great book.
Whymsy Likes Books
Even freaks have a role to play.

The fun infusion of steampunk for kids with a non-glamorous look at Victorian London was great. Plus the fun extra sections at the back about the characters and author notes about Victorian London, gave it a little depth. Mr. Larwood starts feeding out info at a very comfortable pace and creates an entertaining story. I liked the main character, Sheba, from the beginning, but the book was a bit too in your face about her past. As for the other characters while eac
Mar 04, 2014 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing middle school read. A great introduction into historical fiction, with a twist. Gritty (literally) yet somehow not too graphic. Nice to see fiction that is NOT about the privileged classes.
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Kieran Larwood is the author of Freaks, and was the winner of the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2011.
Kieran is one of only two male Reception class teachers on the Isle of Wight.
His days mainly consist of singing nursery rhymes, tying shoelaces, trying to locate who has had an ‘accident’ by sense of smell alone, and vast, endless mountains of paperwork.
Kieran graduated from S
More about Kieran Larwood...

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