In a world of magical visions and pyrokinesis, Mara just wants to have a normal life. But is that possible?
Mara has become used to the extraordinary. Roaming from place to place with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival, she longs for an ordinary life where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future.
She gets her chance when the struggling sideshow sets up camp in the small town of Caudry and she meets a gorgeous local guy named Gabe. But before long, Mara realizes there’s a dark presence lurking in the town that’s threatening the lives of her friends. She has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she had in order to save everyone she cares about—and change the future forever.
AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.
Amanda Hocking won my heart with her Trylle Trilogy. I never binge read series (in fact, I only binge read two series in my whole life: Trylle by A. Hocking and MacKinnon Curse by J.A. Templeton), but that was my first time when I read like a maniac, devouring the world and it’s characters within.
Since then, I knew Hocking will be the one author I will have my eye on, eagerly waiting for new books to feed my appetite.
Amanda Hocking did it again. She wrote yet another unputdownable book. It caught my attention, kept me on the edge of my sit, my eyes were flying through the pages and, before I even realized, I finished a book. My usual reading speed is 30 pages per hour, but with this book, it doubled (and it is not large print!). You can say it’s because of simplicity of language, but I say it’s because of interesting plot.
This book was AMAZING!
With unique characters, unforgetable plot placed in 1987, Freeks is the book that stands out from other pieces in paranormal genre.
The story follows Mara, who works and travels with carnival. Her coworkers and family are paranormal, unusual or in contact with higher powers. When they come to state Louisiana, small town Caudry, one of their members dissapears. Not long after that, they discover that something/someone is after them, as well as their abilities start to weak.
I love how smart Hocking was when outlining this story. She did her math well! By introducing us to new characters, making them unusual but still very relatable, she made us care for every single “Freek”, and then she sent that mysterious thing after them, making us, readers, afraid for them.
She also wrote a good story line.
There was an insta love, be aware, but I liked it. I also liked how main character, Mara, was 18 and her guy, Gabe, 19 (that’s why I didn’t mind things between them developing fast).
I loved the setting. The vibe that small town gives was so well described. Also, I welcome the fact that the story was set in 1987. It made a lot sense to put it in that time, because technology was not developed back then (so there weren’t mobile phones, and land lines weren’t on every step). I can imagine that carnivals had more meaning back then, and pop culture references from that period also gave their charm to the story.
One thing that also needs to be stressed out: there’s a great representation of diversity.
The only thing that confused me a bit (and I bet most people don’t even pay attention to this kind of things) is the lack of Acknowledgments.
Let me tell you, this book is hard to put down! Once you start reading it, it is very likely you will want to finish it in one sitting (but with almost 350 pages long book, that is hardly possible).
I highly, highly recommend this one to paranormal lovers out there!
I liked the book and the characters. I love books about carnivals and the 80's but I'm not too sure about this one yet.
I really enjoyed how the characters are all one big family but there is something and I can't put my finger on it yet. The ending was meh and a little cool at the same time. I was hoping they would say they met up with the others that left to go wait in a safer place. I did like when someone else joined the show at the end =)
I will think more on my thoughts and come back, the stars may change as well!
Man I was really looking forward to this. I mean, just look at that cover!!!!! I’ve also read plenty of Amanda Hocking in what I now refer to as “the time I was brainwashed and inducted as a member in the Twilight cult,” so I wasn’t even scurrrrrrred that I’d hate it. And I didn’t hate it – I just didn’t like it very much either. (In the immortal words of one Roger Murtaugh - I think I’m getting too old for this shit.)
But let’s get on with the show, shall we????
HURRY HURRY HURRY STEP RIGHT UP AND BUY YOURSELF A TICKET . . . .
(Except this one takes place in the 1980s and never effing stops reminding you about it with not-so-subtle insertions of things like “I’m assuming you’re Corey Hart” (‘cause dudebrah wears his sunglasses at night) or popping out to the local video store to snatch up a copy of Top Gun and Weird Science or making sure to crank the volume on the ol’ Tears for Fears.)
Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Show has come to town for one reason and one reason only. It’s broke. An offer of a week-long gig with a hefty paycheck has the caravan rolling and ready to give the locals something they won't soon forget . . . .
This is your typical freak show complete with strong man, bearded lady, dude who can swallow swords, etc. It’s also where Mara (who so far has not been blessed with a special ability) lives with her psychic mother. When presented an opportunity to pretend she’s just a normal girl and hang out with a local boy Mara jumps at the chance. But it doesn’t take long for the reader to start to think things might not be exactly what they seem . . . .
And for members of the troupe to start disappearing.
As I said, I’ve read plenty of Hocking’s books before and for the most part they were okay for me. This one just wasn’t great, however. The whole ‘80s thing was trying to hard, Gabe’s secret was a little too obvious, there were way too many pages for such a small amount of plot, and worst of all I’m not exactly sure who the audience was supposed to be since it read really young but there was uhhhhhhhh penetration if ya know what I mean. But please remember who is talking. When I saw that cover and title my brain went one direction and one direction only . . . .
And when someone pulls out a hidden weapon in order to lay the smackdown, pretty much everything is going to pale in comparison to what I’m thinking of . . . .
Too soon???????? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
I received this E-ARC via St. Martin's Griffin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the blog tour. I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I was scrolling one day and came across this book. It sounded good and some of my friends were reading it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!
The book is written in first person all in Mara's point of view. Before every chapter there is a picture of a tarot card with the date and the year. This book does take place in the eighties.
The book begins with Mara and the circus traveling to their newest location. Mara's mother and her boyfriend Gideon have a bad feeling about this location but they need the money. One of their former members lives in said town and promised them a good deal.
Mara would love the idea of living a normal life. While she likes her family on the circus, she would like to stay in one place and maybe start a family of her own. Whenever Mara reaches a new town she explores it the night before any of their performances.
While exploring the town and taking in all the houses Mara runs into this girl dragging her drunk boyfriend. Mara offers to help said girl. Later the girl invites Mara into the party where Mara meets the girl's brother Gabe. She is instantly attracted to Gabe and spends the night with him.
The next day Mara's mother is asking her whether she has seen one of their members and her roommate Blossom (I think that's her name). Mara has not. This is actually quiet normal for Blossom to disappear and come back again. Which is why Mara doesn't worry about her. On the other hand Mara's mother has weird vibes about the town and sends Mara and Gideon to inform the police. Informing the police doesn't really go anywhere but at least Mara's mother is appeased.
As the book continues weird things start to happen to the circus crew. A majority of their powers aren't working properly. More people have gone missing. Something seems to be only targeting and killing the circus crew, specifically those who are the most powerful. Mara actually starts having these nightmares about a woman screaming something at her in another language. And the town is just giving off weird vibes. The town thus far has do nothing to help. It's up to Mara, the circus crew, and Gabe to figure out what's going on.
To be honest I wasn't sure what to except about this book. I had heard about Amanda Hocking before but have never actually read any of her other books. I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed this!
I really liked basically all of the characters! Mara's voice felt real to me and I understood her longing to live a normal life. I have actually forgotten all but three characters names, so I don't remember Mara's friend's names. Which sucks but is also not surprising seeing as I read this back in October 2016 and didn't take any notes. I apologize in advance for any confusions.
I liked the relationship Mara had with her mother. It wasn't complicated but instead the pair were quiet close. Mara and Gideon had a good relationship as well. Now you would think that they'd have an awkward relationship seeing as he is dating her mom, but surprisingly they were close as well. Gideon genuinely cared for Mara and all of the other performers.
The powers were really cool to read about! I actually didn't hear about some of the powers so that was nice. Mara's mother could predict the future using tarot cards and allowing the spirits to speak to her. This did have a negative affect on her physically and mentally. This was the same with all of their powers. I found this to be very original as I have never read about paranormal powers having negative effects on the people themselves.
Mara's friends were nice and they all had a good relationship with one-another. Mara also becomes friends with Gabe's sister whom I loved. As for Mara and Gabe's romance it was very quick. It wasn't insta-love so much as insta-attraction. Normally I don't like reading about rushed romances, but I didn't mind it in this book. I really liked Gabe so maybe that's why I let it slide. There is an LGBTQIA romance as well. Both the characters are already dating before the book takes place so you didn't get to see their romance develop.
The setting was fantastic! This was my first eighties book and it certainly won't be my last. I also felt I was walking right next to Mara as she took in the town and described the circus and some of the places she went to.
I did not see any of the plot points coming! I found it very original and entertaining to read about. Note this book is more focused on the characters and the setting. It's a decent pace but not a whole lot happens right away.
I only had one problem with this. In the beginning I found that not much happened in the book (which I mentioned above). It took awhile for some of the characters to go missing and for the circus to realize that there was something up with the town. After some time I got used to it. I started to get sucked in because I really enjoyed reading about the characters.
Overall this was a good standalone! I recommend this to anyone looking for a character driven standalone. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author.
I have to say that I'm very impressed with how this story turned out. I wasn't expecting it to be so interesting. The plot is a mixture of mystery, romance, fun and violence. And somehow that combination is what I like to see in my books. Yeah, I know. I'm weird... I've never read a book by this author and after reading this story, I think I'm going to enjoy reading her other books. Despite being YA (although some scenes were almost NA) this story would appeal also to more mature readers.
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
With this sentence the blurb sums up perfectly what you can expect from this story. Also the name of the story, Freeks, is quite accurate. But not only you get a story about people with special abilities, you also get a creature that will make your nightmares look like a joke. And what would a good story be without a murderous plot where the heroes have to fight for their lives, right? This story has it all. It's such a fantastic tempo and also great plot twists that make you want to read the story in one sitting. At least that's what happened to me.
Mara and Gabe are at first sight you typical teenagers looking for a good time. But underneath, both hide some big secrets and both fear that that will come in between their new growing friendship. Add to that the mysterius attacks at the Traveling Sideshow and things get complicated real fast.
Mara and Gabe's characters are obviously in the front of the story but I felt like all the characters got a good piece that told their story. You could fall in love with each character because you knew them so well. The same can be said about characters that make you dislike them. And there were a few of those. Just saying...
I'm really happy I gave this story a chance. It's fun and entertainig till the end. Simply a great read!
Mara is a family member in a struggling traveling side show; her mother is the fortune teller. She’s become accustom to being dismissed and looked down upon because others consider the sideshow people "Freeks". They all have some special ability the marks them different from your average Joe. Mara is different but her mother has had her suppress her powers in fear.
Deciding to check out their newest stop, Mara finds herself invited to a regular college type part where she meets Gabe.
Mara and Gabe have an instant connection but she doesn’t tell Gabe that she is part of the traveling side show.
The very next day, people start to go missing from the sideshow. They are all desperate to discover their missing friends, the sideshow “freeks” race against the clock to earn enough money to leave and keep from falling prey to the mysterious shadow that is attacking their kind…the supernatural.
I am a big Hocking fan, especially loving her ability to pull you into the characters plight. I didn't feel this in FREEKS. The overall story was extremely interesting but I didn't connect with the characters and felt it was an unjustified insta-love situation. I liked FREEKS, I just wished their was more character development.
I received this ARC copy of Freeks from St. Martin's Press in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication January 3, 2017.
My Rating: 3 Stars Written by: Amanda Hocking Age Range: 12 - 18 years Grade Level: 7 and up Hardcover: 400 pages Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Publication Date: January 3, 2017 ISBN-10: 1250084776 ISBN-13: 978-1250084774 Genre: Teen Read | Urban Fantasy
Great story! Lots of action, especially by the ending. Several surprising plot twists. I would definitely read a sequel and other books by Hocking. Recommend for all YA readers and anyone looking for an entertaining paranormal read. 😊
I was hungry for a fantasy standalone and I haven’t read anything from Amanda Hocking so Freeks seemed like the best option. Plus it’s supposedly about a carnival so I was definitely attracted but alas, the book is the exact opposite of the thrilling promise of the blurb. I have to admit I am a bit disappointed.
The writing is easy to read, I’ll give it that but everything else to me is underwhelming. The story didn’t tap the magic and excitement of a carnival. Instead, it only used it as a sort of explanation as to the supernatural abilities of the characters.
The story is anti-climactic. It’s as if I’m always made to anticipate something finally interesting happening only to be brought back to the almost linear plot that made me sigh definitely more than once. I have been waiting for that “power” Mara is supposed to control within seven days but again, I ended up feeling “meh”. I was like “that’s it?” Even the revelation of the demon-monster is unimpressive, I didn’t feel an inch of fear or even worry for the characters.
But perhaps if it were only after a romantic story, I wouldn’t be this disappointed because I guess Freeks is mainly a love story (and by love story, I mean the kind not for younger readers) and the fantastical elements are simply for the reader’s entertainment and if I looked at it that way, I guess it wasn’t so bad and the fact that I was able to finish all 387 pages of the book means it’s still entertaining enough and is still worth a read.
Copy received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review A big thanks to St. Martin's Press for the chance to join the book tour.
Actual rating: 3.5
I'm split with this read because I loved most of it, with the romance portion of the story as an exception. I'm a sucker for romance, the romance keeps me reading. It's well-written, the characters are awesome, every aspect of it is done well except the romance, which felt like a big part of the story. It felt rushed, like it was too much too soon. It's still a great read, especially for lovers of the fantasy genre.
So this wasn't a bad book, but it wasn't exactly a hit for me. It felt very YA (which I get it... it's written for YA) but it kinda felt like something that would have been on Nic at Night in the 90's. It's a decade book which is kinda cool- I love the 80's and honestly I would have liked even more references to it. But the general plot was kinda meh in my opinion.
The writing wasn't bad - I actually liked the way Hocking described things. It was an easy read in that perspective and I felt like I was in the story. The beginning was pretty strong too- I felt connected to the MC right off the bat. She was pretty relatable and I liked that she was a little older. I liked Gabe's introduction too- but wow was that instalovey. The romance wasn't entirely weak- it was kinda cutesy, but nothing jaw dropping or full of feels. The general setting was cool though with the carnival and all.. and I even liked the town backdrop.
I don't know, it isn't that there was a ton of things wrong with the book- I was just unimpressed with the whole town mystery and how all that played out. It just feels like something I've seen on TV a million times. Maybe judge it for yourself!
Mara and her mother who is a necromancer have been traveling with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow for years and a life on the road is the only one Mara knows. Those in the sideshow are family to Mara with most having some sort of powers just like her mother's but Mara herself hasn't experienced any such thing yet herself. With the show really hurting for money when an offer that almost seems too good to be true comes along in a strange little town called Caudry, Louisiana they have to take the job. After arriving everyone begins to experience odd feelings and a dark vibe that seems to come from the town itself.
Mara decides to take a walk their first night in town to get some air and finds herself meeting some of the local teenagers and makes a connection with Gabe. Mara doesn't want to admit to being a part of the show but Gabe also seems to carry his own secrets but the two begin spending time together. Meanwhile, back at the camp when the sun goes down the sideshow performers seem to be being stalked but some sort of animal. When people Mara loves continue to get hurt she needs to find the strength inside of her to fight whatever it is that is attacking her friends.
Freeks is one that I had really high hopes for when I picked it up but it fell a bit short in my opinion. There are a few things I found that may have been done a bit better to have me really jumping up and down for this read. First being set in the 80s the book really lacked giving very many things throughout to show this decade as the setting which was a little disappointing. The pace also seemed very slow throughout the first three quarters or so as the story and relationships are being set up but then when all the true action and revelations happen it all seems so rushed at the end.
The relationship between Mara and Gabe really seemed to be a bit lacking to me also. They meet and make out and the reader is supposed to believe that it must have been love at first sight I suppose. Mara herself definitely doesn't make a great role model with immediately making out with the first boy she met but she also seemed to contradict herself a bit while contemplating her frequents moves, she seems to have had other relationships but seems surprised Gabe would like her as if she hadn't had a boyfriend before.... just a bit back and forth with very little to get me invested in their story.
In the end I still liked this one a bit as it reminds me of the campy horror movies that I've always been a fan of and it's a shame that with a few tweaks here and there I probably would have really loved the story.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
For whatever reason, books and even movies, about circus life, have always fascinated me, which is why, I first picked up Freeks. Having already read and really liked some of Hocking's other past work, I knew that more than likely, if nothing else, I would get something completely different and fun.
I did get those things and all with a slight paranormal other type twist.
This was a fun read, if not a bit cliché and even a bit un-other. It wasn't anything too fantastical or unheard of and truly, while, it was good, wasn't anything that stood out and demanded to be taken notice of. Instead it was a nice read that let me escape for a few hours into the life of a circus “freek” as the story goes. A bit strange at times and lagging in others but entertaining nonetheless. It wasn't Hockings strongest story by any means but it was a good one and one that I don't regret reading.
*ARC copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Continuing with my ongoing love affair with books about carnivals or circuses, I decided to check out Freeks by Amanda Hocking which features a group of traveling sideshow performers in the 80s as they travel across the country looking for work.
The story stars Mara, a teenager who has practically spent her whole life growing up on the road with Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Carnival. While their show boasts many of the usual attractions, what most folks don’t realize is that many among Gideon’s crew actually possess supernatural powers. For example, they have a telekinetic on staff who helps out with a lot of their magician’s “tricks”. Their trapeze artist has abilities to manipulate the air around him so that he can never fall. Mara’s own mother is a fortune teller who gains insights about her clients�� lives by being able to commune with the dead. However, despite being surrounded by these powered individuals and being the daughter of one herself, Mara has no special abilities. She has sometimes wondered what it might be like to settle down and live like “normal” people, but the carnival is the only family she has ever known, and even though the going can get tough sometimes, Mara loves her life and can’t imagine it any other way.
That is, until Gideon takes up a contract to set up camp in a small southern town named Caudry, and sparks fly between Mara and Gabe, a handsome local boy she meets at a party. Mara likes Gabe—a lot—and he seems to like her too. But how would he feel once he finds out she is a carnie? On the other hand…does he even need to know? By this time in two weeks the sideshow will be on the road again and Mara would be on her way to their next destination; if the relationship is doomed to fail anyway, she sees no harm in withholding a few personal details, especially since Gabe seems to be keeping some secrets himself. Before long though, Mara has more pressing matters to worry about. One by one, members of Gideon’s crew go missing or come under attack, savaged by some mysterious creature. Caudry also seems to be giving off some strange, bad vibes. The carnival came here in the hopes of making some extra revenue, but if the incidents keep up at this rate, Mara fears they’ll run out of performers long before their contract is up.
What I didn’t realize before starting this book was how prominently it would be featuring the romantic side plot. While that by itself isn’t always a negative, it is somewhat frustrating when you get teased all these other fascinating elements in the story, such as the sideshow’s supernatural performers and all the peculiar goings-on happening around Caudry. I wanted more of the carnival life, more details on the backgrounds and personalities of the people working there, and more development into the mysteries of the town. But instead, most of what we got was Gabe, Gabe, and more Gabe. The story keeps shoving his and Mara’s relationship down our throats and I can’t help but think way too many pages were wasted in this area.
Plus, after all this buildup to the grand finale where supposedly huge revelations would be revealed, the results were decidedly underwhelming. When all is said and done, the mystery felt much smaller than it was meant to be, and reasons are clear as to why: there’s actually very little plot in this book. Like I said, most of it is padded by the romance, and I won’t deny that this is somewhat disappointing. Hocking has set up something really cool here, creating a world where people with supernatural abilities live among us, then shining a spotlight on a traveling sideshow run by many of these special individuals. However, instead of exploring this aspect, she has decided to go with the tired and well-trod route of “yet another YA romance” while adding nothing too new or different to the formula. Big time missed opportunity here, which is what gripes me the most.
In sum, Freeks had the potential to be more but ended up being rather average. Too much emphasis was placed on what was arguably a lackluster romance complete with stale dialogue and hints of insta-love, while regrettably the best and most interesting aspects of the story were underplayed. The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, just another ordinary middle-of-the-road YA fantasy novel.
Audiobook Comments: I’m glad that I listened to the audiobook version of Freeks, otherwise my rating might have been slightly lower. The performance by narrator Em Eldridge made up for some of the weaknesses of the story, as talented voice actors and actresses are able to do sometimes. For one thing, she’s great at accents—when a character’s description states that they have a southern drawl, for example, that is exactly what she delivers. Her energy also gives life and personality to everyone in the story, especially Mara. I believe this is the first book I’ve ever listened to Ms. Eldridge read, but I’ll definitely be looking for more audiobooks narrated by her in the future.
When I was asked to be apart of the blog tour for this book I was excited since this sounded like something I would enjoy! After reading it I found I liked the book...but didn't love it. I had some definite pros but had some cons I couldn't overlook. I can picture people liking this book but since the cons were so distinct I couldn't give it anything more or less than a 2.5/5 stars.
**Was sent an egalley in exchange for an honest review**
Freeks was a unique and intriguing novel. I thought the carnival sideshow aspect of this book was brilliant. I loved being in that world and surrounded the cast and crew of the sideshow. I wish there could have been more of the carnival in the book! The sideshow had a lot of interesting characters that I really enjoyed getting to know.
I thought the author did a great job at describing the physical appearance of characters and the scenery. I could clearly see all the characters in my head and imagine what their abnormalities (if they had any) looked like. The paranormal elements of this book were a lot of fun to read about! I thought they added an enjoyable element to the book.
The mystery that the author weaved into the plot kept me on my toes! The mystery added a fun and addictive element. There were some slow moments sprinkled throughout the story and predictable reveals, but I still enjoyed the overall plot of this book.
The main character, Mara, was a solid character and I enjoyed reading from her point of view. There were a few times that I felt like she acted irrationally, but for the most part, she made reasonable decisions. I was glad that she wasn't a whiny or annoying character! I loved reading about her relationships with the different sideshow members. My favorite relationship was the one between Mara and Roxie. I thought they made great friends and I enjoyed their scenes together. I could read a whole book just about them going on adventures together!
Gabe was a sweet and likable character. However, his romance with Mara was a let down for me. I think their personalities work really well together, but it wasn't developed in a way that I thought was believable. The romance felt like insta-love to me, and it I didn't like that very much. Within minutes of their first interaction, they started making out. I am not against the idea of instant chemistry or the idea of people just hooking up for the pleasure of it. However, this quick makeout lead into a fast romantic relationship that felt a bit lackluster. I would have preferred for their romance, if they were going to have one, to have been much slower paced. If the romance was more of a slow burn, then I know I would have been shipping Mara and Gabe HARD because their personalities mesh well.
Overall, this was a unique and quick read. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves carnivals and mysteries.
3 / 5 Fangs
ALSO, can we talk about how OBSESSED I am with the cover of this book? I definitely have some cover lust right now.
*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. *
I am very, very reluctantly giving this book three stars. It is more like a 3.5 star rating… but I stopped awarding half stars over a year ago now. Even though I was tempted to go back on my decision just for the sake of this book, I’m not going to. Because while it was good, and had its moments, it was a bit of a stretch to say it was wonderful. I did enjoy reading it though. Allow me to elaborate…
The novel was set in a circus, where a lot of the members had powers. I really liked the idea of that – of the carnival truly being magical and having its own intrigue to it. I think the author handled the atmosphere really well too. I really felt like it was a circus, and the aspect of living in a small traveling home, which never stayed in the same place for too long. Also, there is an eerie undercurrent to the whole story which has to do with the plot. I really felt it, and liked that it was so present.
However, I had some issues with the main character. I did like Mara a lot, and I think she was a very brave and fun character to read about. She also really wants to stick up for her friends and family, and truly shows her loyalty to them. But… she could be quite hypocritical. There is a romance interest in this novel, and she worries about letting him know she is a member of the circus because he might treat her differently because of it. I understand that. And it must be difficult if that reaction has happened countless times before. But despite Gabe only being understanding of everything, she doesn’t let herself trust him… and that bothered me a little. Or she would expect something from him, but if the situation flipped she didn’t understand how/why he would expect the same of her. Which bothered me again.
But the romance in itself was pretty sweet. It was fairly clean, and not too intense. The best way I can put it is nice. It was a nice romance.
The pace of the novel was slow, but not in a bad way. Never was I bored, or wanted to put down the novel. More so, I felt at the same level of suspense all the time, and I just steadily kept reading my way through. I think the atmosphere was what really kept me turning the pages, and wanting to know how things would be resolved.
Although… the ending feel mediocre? It was over all too quickly. There were consequences, but I feel like it was rushed. We never got to feel the full effect of those consequences and what they meant for the characters, because the story finished pretty soon afterwards. The darkness and creepiness all came to a peak, but it crumbled down far too quickly for me.
I really liked the descriptions and how it added to the imagery I felt in my mind. On the other hand, I did notice one word being used quite a lot… ‘flesh.’ I don’t know about you, but that word is not the nicest description of things? But the author used it as if it was. He touched the soft flesh of her stomach… or her mother patted the flesh of her arm… or his flesh was torn from being attacked… flesh this, flesh that. I’ve just seen that word a little too much :D
A slow and steady story, but enjoyable in its own right.
Before I read this, before I even bought this, I was really skeptical of the book. It has poor reviews, a not great overall rating, and people seemed to be really underwhelmed. But I LOVE books involving the Circus (this caused me to buy THREE more) so I bought it and went in with no expectations.
This made me realize that a lot of books marketed as YA mystery/creepy books (this, and the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux are the 2 I can think of) make people expect so much and they are usually let down. I've realized that if you read these just expecting to have fun you will be way less disappointed. People expect too much out of these types of stories sometimes.
I just adored this book. It took me a while to read because of work, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I was reading this book. I liked the writing, the voice of the main character was so strong, and I loved the side characters. The diversity in this book is on point too. Two interracial children, a half indian main character and a half hispanic love interest. There was LGBT representation as well. Just a well rounded cast of characters and I really enjoyed it.
The plot itself was great. Honestly the setting of a circus made my heart soar, I just love this setting, but I enjoyed the southern US town too. The plot fit in really nicely with the setting and characters and I think that everything at the end had a really solid conclusion.
I recommend it, but I say don't expect much. Most people seem to get let down from this book and I think it's because they just expect a lot more than this book can provide.
(A huge thanks to Pan Macmillan India for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.)
I must say that while the protagonist is Mara, my favourite character from the book is Roxie. She's spunky and sweet and her pyrokinetic powers are wicked cool! I found her the most well written of all the characters and thoroughly enjoyed her friendship with Mara.
Mara is an interesting character. She’s been with the travelling circus since she was a toddler and longs for a more permanent home. This causes her to have a fascination with houses. I enjoyed how she was a strong heroine and was definitely not a damsel in distress. There was one thing about her that I didn’t like. She mentions that she has flings and romances with guys while she’s travelling and most times leaves before they find out who she is. That is so not cool.
Gabe is quite a charming gentleman with a bad boy streak and I enjoyed reading about him. He has an air of mystery around him that thickens as the plot moves forward.
One thing that turned me off was the insta-love between Mara and Gabe. It was way too fast and so sudden. I think the story would have worked wonderfully even if Mara and Gabe had been friends or maybe crushes.
I LOVED, absolutely LOVED the diverse people who are a part of the travelling circus. While the diversity itself isn’t a huge part of the story, I quite enjoyed it.
The plot has it all – mystery, horror and romance. Despite a few predictable twists, I quite enjoyed how the plot turned out. The plot made sure that the book was absolutely un-putdownable. The circus background and the deliciously creepy setting adds so much character to the plot and really makes it ‘work’. I did feel the ending was a bit rushed but somehow it kind of worked for the book.
The writing is fast paced and simple. It was neither overtly descriptive nor was it boring. I think part of what kept me turning the pages hungrily was the simple but wonderful writing. I must mention here that I’ve read Switched and Wake by the author and somehow didn’t connect with the writing but I found the writing to be so much more better in Freeks. Also I absolutely loved the Tarot card art in the book that added to the creepy quality of the story.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK
- The plot - The creepy atmosphere - The diversity - Roxie - The writing - The circus setting
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK
- The insta love - The fact that the ending was rushed
Freeks is a quick and exciting read with an eerie atmospheric setting that fits the plot. It has it's small flaws but ultimately makes for a wonderful read filled with interesting and diverse characters.
There were a few joy moments but overall, this was very lackluster to me. It was like certain moments of Twilight mixed with Beautiful Creatures at a carnival. I was doubtful I was going to enjoy it but I wanted to but it was a no go for me, I'm sad to say.
First of all, love this cover. Totally gets the vibe of the book. Then again, all Hocking's books have amazing covers. I'm a big fan of hers. When I was asked to be part of the blog tour, I jumped at the chance. And I hadn't even read the book yet.
I knew I would love it. I just knew.
Let me just dive into the premise so you can see how cool this book sounded to me...
So Mara travels around with her mom and her mom's boyfriend Gideon during the spring of 1987 (I was four years old, btw, so I feel really old now). They are a group of carnival workers and "freaks." However, the freaks in this show aren't exactly just run of the mill people. When the money gets low, they load into the Winnebago and travel to Louisiana where a friend and old sideshow member suggest they can make some major money. And the one thing Mara and the other carnival workers need is money....even though once they enter the town, they can almost feel a creepy presence in the town.
Mara mainly just helps her friends and family as she has no gift. Her mother is a Necromancer and can speak to the dead. Gideon can see the future. One friend is a pyrokinetic whiz, and another can self-heal. They are perfect for Gideon's Traveling Sideshow...but Mara has no gift.
While in the town, Mara meets Gabe, a sexy townie. And though their relationship cannot last, as she is only passing through, Mara and Gabe get closer than they should.
Then the attacks start.
A mysterious beast is attacking the carnival worriers. No one can get a good look at it, but the workers' lives are in danger. However, they can't leave because their contract stipulates they stay for so many days. And they are flat broke. So they do what they can and try to be wary. Mara is a little distracted by Gabe, who seems to have secrets of his own. One thing for sure: she doesn't want Gabe to know she works for the carnival.
But as more people get hurt, the people of Gideon's Traveling Sideshow start to wonder: what is going on in this small town in Louisiana? And why are the carnival workers a target?
Could Gabe be a part of the evil that lurks in this town?
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Hocking's books aren't always PG (the Wake series has some steamy scenes and some swearing, but if you read the series you would understand why). But this one is totally clean. I can't really see much use for this particular book in the classroom, but it would definitely make a good recommeended read for outside class reading. There is nothing offensive that I wouldn't want my students to read. And just because there isn't something that I can see, others might find a use for Freeks in the classroom: there is a theme of prejudice against anything "different." And I loved the 80s references.
I will once again have to guess because Freeks isn't listed on Lexile.com (they really need to include more in their book catalogue). I would recommend it for ages 13 and up, though I think mature 12 year olds could read it as well. There isn't anything really too inappropriate beside one scene with innuendo about a sleepover...but it's implied. So I'm comfortable saying 13 and up, but also it depends on a case-by-case basis for younger readers. I'm more cautious than others, so for some I might be a little conservative. If that's the case, then I would recommend giving it a read first before handing it off to anyone younger than 13.
I liked Freeks a lot. I wish it was a series. I wouldn't mind learning more about the freak show and the people in it. Alas, it is a standalone, so I give it ★★★★☆. Which mean...
For reference, see my rating system, see my blog.
Oh...but I'm not done yet! How about some Q & A with AMANDA HOCKING HERSELF???
AMANDA HOCKING Q&A
1. Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.
2. What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.
3. What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?
There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.
4. What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?
I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.
5. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?
For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”
6. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.
7. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I usually have a goal in mind before I start writing, but it varies. Some days, it’s slow going and I hope to get at least 500 words out. Other days, I fly through with thousands of words. So it depends on where I’m at in the book, when it’s due, and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.
8. When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?
With all my main characters, I have a really good idea of who they are, and it’s just a matter of showing that to the readers. With the side characters, they tend to be rather one-dimensional, and they grow into the story as they’re needed.
9. How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?
FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it.
And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.
10. If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?
Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.
11. Can you please tell us a little bit about Freeks and where you got the inspiration to write it?
I was going through a rough patch, creatively speaking, and so I just sat back and tried to think of my favorite and what I loved most that I would want to write about.
When I was a kid, I used to get old books at garage sales all the time, and I distinctly remember getting Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and a few old V. C. Andrews novels, (I LOVE THESE!! - Steph) which are pulpy Southern Gothic-esque novels. I also watched The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink over and over again (I think I literally ruined the old VHS of The Lost Boys from watching it too much).
So I basically threw all those things together in a soup, and I picked apart the things I liked and wanted to explore more. That became a travelling sideshow in the 80s stopping Louisiana, where a supernatural monster is afoot, and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is smith with a local boy with secrets of his own.
12. Freeks is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?
Mara and Gabe are my obvious favorites, since they’re the main characters because I was drawn to them and their story the most. Both of them of them have complex feelings about family and personal identity, and their instant chemistry was fun to write.
But I think Gideon – the namesake and head of sideshow – was actually the biggest surprise, which made him fun in a different way. In the original outlines of the story, he was much a different character – very one-note and cruel – but he completely changed and evolved as I was writing.
13. The book is based off of a type of traveling circus that is full of many mysterious acts. If you were to attend a Freekshow, which act would you want to see most?
My favorites are usually the acrobatics, but I think if I attended Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, I would be most excited to see Gideon’s magic act. With his skills and knowledge, I think it would be a really amazing show.
14. What do you hope readers will take away from FREEKS after reading it?
With some of my other novels, I deal with heavy themes like life and death, identity, honor, mortality, classism, and family. And while I do definitely touch on those themes in FREEKS, I mostly wrote it as an escape for myself, and that’s what I hope it is for other readers. Life can be hard and frustrating, and I just wanted to write a fun book that readers could get lost in for awhile.
15. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Probably how chronically shy I am. Writing is a weird profession, because a good 90% of it is perfect for introverts – you sit alone by yourself and make up imaginary friends to go on adventures. But the last 10% – which involves introducing the whole word to your imaginary friends – is the most exciting and rewarding part, but it’s also the most difficult when you’re as shy as I am.
So that's it, guys! Hope you enjoyed reading my review and learning a little about Amanda Hocking and Freeks!
Seriously...check it out.
I leave you with the awesome Pan Macmillan cover, that I think is beautiful in its own way:
Happy Reading, y'all! Now here's me in Powerpuff form!
"They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed." I am so glad that I talked my husband into letting my buy this. Who doesn't love a supernatural story at a carnival!? With all the whimsical games, human freaks and enough eighties references to make your life enriched. And a Corey Hart reference! A girl truly after my dark heart. *swoon* Mara and her mom are apart of a traveling circus. Going from town to town, she doesn't have time for the usual everyday teen drama. The carnival is broke and matters only seem to be getting worse. Until an unexpected offer leads them to a tiny town with promises of money that could change their lives. Upon getting into town, things are off. People feel the darkness that creeps in around them. But they decide to make the best of it, while ignoring the weight of doom. Mara goes wondering through the town and spots him. A gorgeous guy that meets her eye and holds it. She's suddenly drawn to him like he is to her. Love at first sight. The carnival can wait as she falls into the claws of a man with secrets. She also has a few of her own. The carnival becomes a huge success, but at dire costs. Things are lurking in the night. Deadly things that are on the hunt for flesh and power. As things go from successful to frightening in the matter hours. They decide to stick it out to collect the life changing money. As performers are being picked off left and right, they must decide what's right for them in the long run. All while Mara is falling madly in love with Gabe. That darker deadly presence will haunt their lives and dreams until there is no one left. I love this book. Creepy carnivals and weird love are near and dear to my heart. What really stopped this from being five stars was a part near the end. This fight sequence of saving performers lives and how it ends. There was something just too far fetched for me and the abrupt end to it all. The story in between that was mesmerizing. My favorite book of the year so far!!
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: This story follows Mara who is apart of a traveling carnival in 1987. They arrive in a small Louisiana town in time for the Vernal Equinox, trying to draw business to this small town. Mara meets a mysterious rich guy in town who is hiding secrets from the carnival.
Dislikes: I'm sad that its over. I loved this so much and never wanted it to end.
Likes: The writing was incredible and so fast paced. I never wanted to put the book down. I loved the main character and love the fact that there were lots of different races and unique talents involved in the book. The plot was incredible and such a different story than what I'm use to. I could not put this book down!!!
Overall: In total, this book blew me away and now I have to read more by Amanda Hocking. This story was unique and the characters all made me feel like I could fit right in with them. No judgement, no questions asked. I highly highly highly recommend this book to everyone!
Freeks is a well written novel, filled with so much action and great characters that you can't put the book down.
Mara knows not to get attached to any of the town folk, after all, she is leaving in a week. Yet when Mara meets a cute boy at a party she stumbles upon, she can't help but catch feelings. The only problem is that no one ever falls for the girl working at the carnival. But dark forces are found in the new town, and they're attacking the carnival and everyone Mara loves.
Mara isn't the usual type of main character I fall in love with, but she has something about her that you can relate to and understand, she almost feels like a little sister. Mara has been travelling with the carnival for a long time, so long that the workers feel like family to her. Mara's love for her carnival family comes out when they are being threatened and I absolutely love it. I love how her bonds are so strong with everyone, and how she's so protective of her people. She's just a very likeable character, not only by other characters but by the reader as well. She is only 19 but she's so responsible and hard working she almost feels older, she just makes for a wonderful role model.
I really loved Gabe, and the romance in this book. The scenes between Mara and Gabe are really cute and romantic. They are perfect together and every scene with the two of them was a pleasure to read.
The storyline was so close to being perfect. I loved the beginning and middle of the book. The book had a good pace going, the action was building up, everything was going perfectly... then the climax happened.
~ Mild spoilers ahead ~
When we hit the climax of the story, and Mara kills the beast, it almost seemed too easy. This demon was described in a way that it was so hard to kill and the townsfolk couldn't kill it for decades, and then all of a sudden Mara shoots it with a magic crossbow and its dead.
~ End of spoiler ~
I would have given this book 5 stars if it wasn't for the climax being so... easy. But everything that happened after the climax went back to the wonderful style of writing I liked in the beginning.
Overall, I would still really recommend this book. It's slightly different than anything I've read before in the paranormal world of books. The characters are great and it's so close to being a perfect book. Definitely give it a try if you can.
I like YA books, they're usually quick to read. I'd find them the perfect beach read if I ever sat on a beach. I spend a lot of time on trains and this was one book that helped me pass being stuck between Leicester and London after a high speed train broke down for 45 minutes. It's fun, feisty and for once has a teenage girl that doesn't behave like a wet dishrag. Mara work for a travelling sideshow in the 80's believing she is one of the only people there with no special skills (you can guess what will happen there with no spoilers). One by one the travellers are picked off and brutally murdered by some kind of shadowy wolf that no one seems able to catch or even see that well. Lots of questions popped up around this all eventually answered thankfully. I hate cliffhangers.
Just why did Gabe's mother invite the carnival when it seems she really doesn't like anybody or want them there??? That was answered at 95% on my kindle which while I;m glad it was answered did make the end a little bit rushed. I would have liked a bit more information on what this mysterious swamp monster actually was.
Why there was a deputy sheriff that hated them was never resolved or even why he was deputy when the actual sheriff never made an appearance. That I found odd. Just make him a full sheriff or ordinary policeman.
The characters were for the most part well rounded (grumblings about the non-sheriff notwithstanding) and as mentioned the females actually had a bit of fire in them one (one literally that was her superpower). I liked this a lot and would read more
I received a free ARC from netgalley in return for an honest review
So for me at least, this book took me a while to read.
I know I know 5 days isn't that long you say. but your talking to someone who can finish a book in 1 or 2 tips most of the time.
this week just got away from me starting classes, work, and helping my mom as she recovers. and so my reading time just wasn't there. and that's why sadly I didn't have updates as I read like I normally do.
but this book ah-mah-gawd!!!!!
it was so so good. I really wasn't sure Amanda could write a book that bested her Trylle/Kanin series, for me, but this book did just that.
this supernatural, a tad spooky, and yet totally thrilling world just blew me away. and it was the characters too. I can't even pick out just one in particular I found myself adoring more then the rest. It was literally ALL of them.
I tried not to find out too much what this book was about before reading it, just because I find the surprise of it all to be even more fun. so once I really started understanding the plot I spent a ridiculous amount of time shouting out "No way!" (but in a good way of course)
I mean every time I thought I had a lock on something the story would take a sudden shift I haven't expected. (I did have a couple things right though, so I'm still proud of my book mojo hehe)
and just a while book about this awesome old school side show was just a brilliant idea. it was different and so much fun seeing all these people do this spectacular things no one else can. and I loved the comradery everyone showed. you knew that if something happened to any of the characters that the others would have their backs.
it was just a brilliant story, and I've got my fingers crossed this will be just the forat in a series... please please please let this be a new series!!!!
full review to come....
but for now I definitely give FREEKS *****5 STARS*****
The fun stuff: We got a fun glimpse into life for the traveling sideshow. Right away in this story we are on the road. This story is set in the 80s. Mara is 19 years old. Although she was more new adult age, she is more young adult in her maturity. Mara is a genuinely likeable person. She is everything I would imagine a 19 year old in her situation would be. Mara is a good friend to her “family” in the sideshow.
Her love interest Gabe was also a great character. They meet and have a genuine “like” for each other right away. I imagine the newness of each other is what drew them together. They also seemed to be living the dream way the other one wished for. Mara and Gabe get along so well, I really liked them together. Things between them happened really fast. I am more a fan of slow burn type romances, but this relationship worked for me.
There is a genuine mystery happening in this town. I won’t talk too much about it because it was what really kept me turning pages. Instead, I want to tell you that the descriptive writing in this story will put you right there. I could easily imagine the whole scenes and the characters.
The bad news: There was a lack of emotion in some of the characters. There wasn’t enough outrage in a certain scene. There also wasn’t too much of the show itself. No acrobats? I wanted the author to describe them! The mystery in the story ended pretty abruptly. I seriously wish this were a series, the fact that it is not is so disappointing. There was much more that could have been explored in this world.
All in all, this was a fun read in an awesome setting. I really enjoyed this read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy and paranormal reads.
The whole circus/sideshow aspect was really fun. The romance was your typical YA romance, and I didn't expect much more than that going in. It was creepy, fun, and interesting. I always enjoy Hocking's stories. You just have to go into them knowing that the writing style is typical to YA. But the storylines are always usually pretty unique, as was this one. I really like the idea of this being a standalone, but I definitely wouldn't mind to travel more with the circus and these characters if it becomes a series.