Hello everyone! I’m welcoming the new month with the new release Freeks by Amanda Hocking. Freeks centres on Mara and her carnival crew who arrive in a small town but soon they come under attack by a mysterious supernatural force. I’ll start with a Q&A with the author herself and dive into my review.
If you could describe Freeks in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
AH: In 1987, a teenage girl lives and works with a travelling sideshow until they end up in a sleepy town full of secrets, monsters, and plenty of romance, making Freeks is a New Wave take on a Southern Gothic.
Who are your top 5 most kick-ass heroines?
AH: So I’m assuming you mean my favorite ones that I haven’t written, so here goes:
- Furiosa from Mad Max Fury Road (not a book, but she’s my favorite, so I had to put her on here)
- Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy
- Celaena from Throne of Glass
- Lada from And I Darken
- Romy from All the Rage
What is some advice that you would give aspiring authors?
AH: Write like nobody will read it, and edit like everyone will. You need to love what you’re writing, or nobody else will. But you need to be able to edit and slash and cut and rearrange to make the story the best it can be. Writing is about coddling the words, nurturing them onto the page, and editing is about whipping them into shape.
If you don’t know already, I’m a sucker for carnival stories especially if they’re mixed with fantasy. So I enjoyed Freeks very much. Even though it started a bit slow, the story escalated starting with Blossom’s disappearance, hooking me in until I was at the edge of my seat and/or making me pace around my house. There were clever plot twists and teasers that it was tempting to flip to the end. And yes, the writing was beautiful and felt like a caress.
The romance is sweet. I have mixed views on instant love, the “I can’t live without you even though we’ve known each other for two days” thing, and I felt their relationship was a little underdeveloped, BUT I like Mara and Gabe. I wish there were more moments with Mara and his sister Selena though. Those two were becoming friends, only to [spoiler].
The worldbuilding is quite vivid and definitely has a Southern Gothic feel. I was hoping to see more of the thing that attacks the carnival crew, but not much. I know it’s evil but still…there were some parts including the climax and ending that felt cut short. I would’ve loved to see Mara and the crew fighting more, and better focus on the role of the local werewolves.
The “we are family, we stick together” theme brought me to tears and made me want to join the crew. Not only is the crew close and experience hate from outsiders, they’re also diverse including the protagonist herself who is biracial. I found Mara and her mother’s relationship very heartwarming (even though the latter is a bit overprotective). I need more characters with great relationships with their parents in YA.
Freeks brings a unique take on carnival stories and contemporary fantasy. If you love carnivals, romance, macabre, the 80s, magical family histories, mysterious disappearances and crimes, then you would like this book.
This is an honest review. Thank you Pan Macmillan (Aus) for giving me the chance to read and review.