Freeks by Amanda Hocking
Published January 31, 2017 by Pan Australia
RRP AUD $16.99
The Carnival is all she’s ever known – but an old terror could tear it down.
In the spring of 1982, the carnival comes to small-town Cauldry, Louisiana. Then events take a dangerous turn. For Mara Besnick, the carnival is home. It’s also a place of secrets, hidden powers and a buried past – making it hard to connect with outsiders. However, sparks fly when she meets local boy Gabe Alvarado. As they become inseparable, Mara realises Gabe is hiding his own secrets. And his family legacy could destroy Mara’s world.
They find the word ‘freeks’ sprayed on trailers, as carnival employees start disappearing. Then workers wind up dead, killed in disturbing ways by someone or something. Mara is determined to unlock the mystery, with Gabe’s help. But can they really halt this campaign of fear?
All in all, an interesting tale, and while there was definitely the potential for a great story with the concept and the world setting, it just fell a bit short for me. Before Freeks, I hadn’t read any books by Amanda Hocking, though I had heard a lot of wonderful things about her Trylle Trilogy. I recently read Caraval by Stephanie Garber and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, both wonderful stories set in magically whimsical circuses, so I definitely had high expectations for this.
Initially, everything started out mysterious and drew me in, the paranormal aspects added to the magical element. Soon, however, I felt as though the story was almost too predictable, but then there was a twist which was so unexpected and just seemed to come out of nowhere (but maybe I’m just super unobservant???). The pacing was slightly off too, the beginning started out pretty slow and repetitive, and then all of a sudden things picked up and the whole thing was basically wrapped up in like 4 pages.
There were so many strong female characters! I loved the character development, and I felt attached to all of the characters, even the ones that weren’t in the spotlight for that long. I liked the relationships between the circus members, I loved how tight-knit their ‘family’ was.
I did, however, get slightly annoyed with the protagonist, Mara, when she started flicking back and forth and changing her mind. I felt the main relationship between Mara and Gabe was a case of a not-so-tasteful insta-love, and I think the story could’ve been better if it wasn’t so focused on them, I would’ve loved for the book to have focused more on the circus and the crew! I couldn’t fully appreciate the romance, because everything happened too fast for my liking.
In general, I did enjoy the book, but there were certain things that could’ve been changed to improve it. I did like Amanda’s writing style though, so I’ll probably read more of her books.
I received a review copy from the publisher
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Hocking is twenty-six years old, lives in Minnesota and had never sold a single book before 15 April 2010. She will shortly sell her millionth. Her books have been a self-publishing phenomenon – according to the Observer, Amanda is “the most spectacular example of an author striking gold through ebooks”. In her own words, Amanda is an Obsessive Tweeter. John Hughes mourner. Unicorn enthusiast. Red Bull addict. Muppets activist. Fraggin Aardvarks guitarist. Author of the USA Today bestselling books the Trylle Trilogy.