Author: Amanda Hocking
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.
When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.
But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.
Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.
I about lost my mind when I saw that Amanda Hocking was coming out with a new book. I mean, look at that cover! It's absolutely gorgeous and I was completely blown away. And then I found out that it was about a traveling carnival/freak show, and seriously, how can you resist? So I was especially excited we were chosen to host a tour stop.
Most of you may know that the author is a bit of a self-publishing anomaly, paving the way for the success of others. She came onto the scene with her Trylle series. And then she moved on to the Watersong series, which was one of my favorites. She has such a knack for imposing this magical realism on the reader that is absolutely endearing and terrifying at the same time.
And she didn't disappoint with Freeks either. There were a lot of things that worked for me in this standalone novel. It begins with Mara, who is traveling with her mother and fellow supernatural-performing friends. Except that Mara doesn't possess any of these otherworldly gifts and so, she's relegated to cleaning tiger poop and performing other mundane and lowly tasks. And the band of performers were described so perfectly, I could almost picture them. The picture below is probably very close to what's described, if you could just add an extra leg to one of the males pictured.*
Because yes, there's a bearded lady too. Without having to add any more uniqueness to the story, it's also set in the 1980's over the course of 10 days, as they pass through Caudry, LA - a gig that will probably bring them the much-required money they need to continue traveling.
As soon as the sideshow arrives in town, Mara wanders off and meets Gabe, a rich local. But things aren't as they seem and as soon as one of the members of the circus goes missing, that's when the weirdness really escalates. Because people are disappearing, getting hurt, and getting killed, all the while the relationship between Mara and Gabe intensifies and there are "secrets" that each won't tell the other.
The story is told in a very fluid style, which makes it easy to read, and is typical of the author's writing style. And I liked that this story is so different when you combine the elements of Louisiana (my hometown), the traveling circus, the supernatural elements, and the mystery. In other words, I'm very attracted to stories that don't fall neatly into one genre. But where I did think the story faltered was the relationship between Mara and Gabe. It felt a bit rushed. Even when they meet, I had no time to even care or get butterflies over the whole thing because it was instantaneous, both physically and mentally. I also thought that there could have been more character development because I wanted to know more about these people, which is both a good and bad thing.
But overall, it's an enjoyable read. And because my opinion falls right down the middle, I encourage people to pick this one up. Who knows, you may find this to be your favorite book of 2017!
* Cast of Tod Browning's Freaks, filmed in 1931, produced and released by MGM in 1932. Photo credit unknown.
Hardcover Copy of Freeks
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