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The Freakshow

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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Once the Flaherty Brothers Traveling Carnivale and Freakshow rolls into Pleasant Hills, Tennessee, the quiet little town will never be the same. In fact, much of the town won't survive. At first glance the freakshow looks like so many others - lurid, run-down, decrepit. But this freakshow is definitely one of a kind...



The townspeople can't resist the lure of the tawdry spe
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Mass Market, 324 pages
Published March 30th 2007 by Dorchester Publishing (first published 2007)
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The Goriest Books Ever
87th out of 250 books — 477 voters
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38th out of 108 books — 143 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,122)
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Bark's Book Nonsense
I'm a sucker for carnie books but still haven't found one as good as Katherine Dunn's Geek Love.

Sadly I've given up on this one halfway through as it wasn't getting any better. It's just filled with disposal characters who we don't know enough about to care when they're getting tortured or doing nasty things for carnie/aliens who enjoy eating, tearing apart, experimenting, etc. on humans. The plot was thin, the writing not so good and the characters just weren't compelling. I have too many books
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Matt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
TK421
Bryan Smith has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a few years. And for the most part, I am happy to read what he writes. But be forewarned, this one is a stinker.

It starts off good enough...a creepy carnival, lots of carnage. Then it goes into territory that I think brings the book to a cheese factory, and makes it work overtime. (I hate writing spoilers, so I'll just say this goes from a creepy gore-fest to a completely different dimension.)

It's not the genre bending that I have problems with
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Tressa
I read this book a few years ago and I highly recommend it to horror readers.

The citizens of a small town can't wait to attend the freakshow, but they have no idea they're going to be the acts. No one is safe as the freaks in the travelling show surround the town and proceed to go door to door slaughtering men, women, and children, or forcing them to participate in their bloody carnival. Admittance will only cost you one finger.

Disturbing images, a claustrophibic vibe, and a wicked woman ringlea
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Terry
Rolling up in Pleasant Hills, Tennessee, the Flaherty Brothers Traveling Carnivale and Freakshow draws the attention of the town’s population – little do they know that they’re tonight’s entertainment. Bryan Smith’s Freakshow is a deliciously disturbing book about killer clowns from Hell who plan on hunting down every last soul in Pleasant Hills.

Freakshow is packed with nightmare fodder. There’s a two-headed woman (one head is gorgeous and the other deformed) who can take control of your body, a
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Ms. Nikki
Sadistic in a horrifically entertaining way! Lots of gore and a sense of impending misery and doom. Great read!
Barbara
I had just finished Depraved by Bryan Smith, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So I decided to read The Freakshow by him right after Depraved and to be honest, I couldn't even finish the book. I realise that a lot of horror books are unrealistic but if they are done well they are very enjoyable, which sadly wasn't the case with this book in my opinion. I read 25% of it and just couldn't finish it, I honestly tried to keep going and get back into it but it just wasn't happening. What bothered me about ...more
Daniel
Sex, clowns and freaks -- oh my!

Okay, so freaks may not be the most politically correct term, but then again neither is carnies.

I really enjoyed this read. I wasn't confused and I was really freaked out by the suicidal, balloon exploding clowns. If you don't like sex in your reads then this one is definitely not for you. If you like sex in your reads, but that special touching, romantic sex then this one is not for you.

This was a down-n-out, gore-fest, raw sex filled read with some really great
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Felts
A fun little fast paced story. It does contain a ton of gore, some gratuitous "Freaky" sex, and not much depth in the characters. Could have made better use of some other characters in the story (Ringmaster, and the Freak who "owned" Jinx, for example), but other than that I liked it. If you are the least bit squeamish about violence and gore, I would not recommend this. But if you are into two headed freaks having sex while they lick the goo out their lovers empty eye socket, then this one's fo ...more
Lorraine Taylor
Had I have known the main plot of the book I wouldn't have read it—but, saying that, once I had figured it out I couldn't put the book down. An enjoyable read, I found it engaging and scary. Clowns freak me out, and the ones in this book were freakier than most.

The freakshow that goes from town to town isn't your average carnival. It'd be a good idea to leave town—forever.
Tammy
I did not like this book. I like sexy, I like scary, I like gross but not gratuitous (what seemed to me) misogynist porn-gore. There was no character development in this story other than describing who was and was not good in bed.

I swear I'm not a prude.
DJMikeG
Bryan Smith, to the uninitiated, is a horror author who cranks up the level of violence, perversion and sadism to a fever pitch in his works. His novels are really only recommended to those with iron stomachs and thick, thick skin. This is just about his most intense novel, it just oozes sleazy depravity. While I respect the audacity of Smith's imagination and his willingness to go for it, really go for it, sometimes, even for a jaded horror fan like me, there is just too much nastiness going on ...more
Melissa Helwig
I love creepy carnivals in fiction so I decided to make The Freakshow my first Bryan Smith novel. I've accumulated a few of his books though the Leisure Horror Book Club and decided it was time to try one of them.

Mike makes the biggest mistake of his life when he decides to check out the traveling carnival and freakshow, along with the rest of the citizens of the small Tennessee town. Soon he's running for his life from a freak on slits. Meanwhile, Heather returns to her hometown to find out why
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Jaime
My husband and I are at odds on this book. While he said it went downhill after the first half, I say it improved after the first half. I attribute this disagreement to the fact that horror is one of his favorite genres. Me, not so much. Don't get me wrong, I like horror novels, but I like to scared by thoughts and ideas, not blood and gore. And the first half of this book was blood and gore, with the ocassional scenes thrown in specifically for shock value, in my opinion.

However, I think this b
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LinBee
This is the second book I've read by Bryan Smith. And I must say, out of the 2, I liked this one so much better. Generally, I've noticed that he likes to take 3 or 4 main characters, and have each chapter focus on one of them, until they either die off or converge. This can be a bit confusing if you have trouble keeping characters straight, as I do. I had to sit for a minute trying to think who he was talking about now.

As for this book, I love the characters, and the freaks are pretty cool. This
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Steven
A group of people struggle against the invasion of a small town by sadistic aliens. Imaginative, gory, some sex, and decent characters. It was a good read but not compelling.
A.R.
This novel started off slow, didn't seem it would make sense, then hooked me, and the evil logic fell into place. Not for the faint of heart or the rigidly moral. It's the kind of thrill ride that only Smith can take you on, so get your ticket from the freaks!
Mel
I've read a lot of horror novels in my time. So, that being said there are a few authors who never fail to bring chills. Which is what, most people want in a horror novel. Maybe some gore. I guess it all depends on the person. The Freakshow was a little... Weird for lack of a better word. I've read one other book by this author and it was weird as well. It's about a Freakshow (duh) that goes to small towns, kills everyone and replaces them with clones for world domination.
Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading*
Pros - plot was unique, creative, and quickly paced. Characters were convincing. Bryan Smith writes with a style that's a joy to read. Cons - just isn't really my kind of book, too in your face shock factor and a bit too much torture/dread. Too much dulls it for me a bit, not because I become too disturbed, but it just makes it all blend together with less impact. I love circus and freak themes and he certainly didn't fail to disappoint with the villains in this one!
Heather Rose
eh... Written by a man... For men... You can tell by the blatant sexual themes, female violation and WEIRD orgasm/sex scenes... and graphic violence... Which I wouldn't have had a problem with (the violence, NOT the every other scene involving some sort of weird S&M sex)... I've read worse... If this book actually had a legitimate plot line and likable characters. I just wanted everyone to die and get it over with... So I could read a new book...
Mark Brown
This insane B movie tale of interdimentional, monstrous, freaks taking over the planet one small town at a time is not for the faint of heart. Bryan Smith dials the body horror and depravity to 12 and the novel is relentless and brutal. He has quickly become one of my favourite authors and this is perhaps one of his most intense and demented stories. I found it hard to put down.
Carrie
This book would make one awesome Horror/sci-fi movie, however maybe I'm Jaded?! cause I read a ton of Christian books or something but to me this book had way to much cussing in it, And I din't like the use of the Lord's name in vain to much for my liking, but it was a very good book lots of detail, I really enjoyed it.
Ken
I don't mind reading an occasional gore novel if the underlying story is intriguing. Unfortunately, Smith leaves way too many important details in this novel until the very end of the story. As such, the last few pages bailed out what seemed to be a very weak story with a lot of incredibly random events.

3 STARS
Lavell
The characters were not interesting or developed to where you cared about them. There were parts that I liked,like the two-headed woman who had one sexy head and one grotesque head with the power to control another person.
It was not fantastic by any means,but extreme horror fans might take a liking to it.
Dan
Pretty interesting concept, but I thought it was just an all-right read. Had a bit of a tough time believing some of the characters' actions: Someone saves your life and then you turn a shotgun on them? Doubt it. Good enough book if you just need something to kill some time.
Jon
May 16, 2008 Jon rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: horror
Started out kind of confusing, but once it became more clear as to what was going on, 'The Freakshow' became one hell of a ride. I really did like the story. Reminded me a lot of the late great Richard Laymon. Can't wait to discover more of Bryan's work.
Melen
If you're looking for something deep or thought-provoking, move on. If you're easily offended by descriptions of gore, move on. Otherwise, this is a really fun read.

My only real complaint is that the ending seemed rushed.
Alejandro
Poor writing compromises a solid idea and very unique monsters. I'm afraid to say I don't think I'll be checking out another Bryan Smith book anytime soon. All of his female characters come across like cardboard standees.
Kathy
What a fun, sick book! Even better than Bryan Smith's Depraved, and I did really like that one as well! It starts off with a bang and never slows down! Highly recommended.
Helena Sheibler
I had no business enjoying this book as much as I did. This is schlock horror at its absolute finest. I wish Sam Raimi would make a movie adaption.
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