Please be aware that this review contains some mild spoilers. Do not continue reading unless you are fine with being spoiled.
When Pan Macmillan first contacted me about a review copy of Freeks, I had no idea who Amanda Hocking was, or that she had sold millions of books. I just said yes because the book sounded cool.
I’ve always been fascinated by carnivals and circuses, and this book drops you right in the middle of the action, with one small difference: some of the members of the travelling show really do have supernatural powers.
I enjoyed Freeks, but the book was a little repetitive, especially at the start. There were also a few occasions when characters or situations were introduced and then reintroduced in almost the exact same way less than a chapter later. And, on the other hand, some details that became quite important later in the story were brushed over so quickly I’d almost forgotten about them by the time they returned.
While this book is set in the ’80s and it does have a few mentions of time-specific décor trends and cultural references, Freeks could almost take place in any decade. In fact, at one point someone started talking about records and for a second I just assumed they were hipsters with a vinyl collection. This temporary confusion doesn’t actually disrupt the flow of the book so whether the indeterminate setting was a blessing or a curse really depends on how much the author wanted it to shape the story.
Despite a slightly shaky start and forgetting what decade I was reading about a couple of times, Freeks soon had me hooked. I love the diversity of the characters, including their experiences and powers. They can talk to spirits or create fire out of thin air, or heal instantly, and it’s just accepted as normal—this is a book about family and acceptance, not about discovery of powers or choosing between natural and supernatural life.
The suspenseful build-up throughout the book was fantastic. I found myself wanting to know more about everything and I stayed up until stupid o’clock to finish the book because I refused to go to sleep without knowing how it ended.
That being said, once the story reached its climax, everything was over very quickly and loose ends were kind of flung together. Sure, the book is already 400 pages long but after investing that much time in a book I would expect to know for certain whether I was satisfied or dissatisfied with the ending. Right now, I honestly can’t say. If something needed to happen, it happened. But that doesn’t mean it happened in the best possible way for the story.
All in all, I would definitely recommend Freeks to people interested in circus/carnival stories, young love and the supernatural. But I would be ready and waiting in case they wanted to rant about the ending.
I was provided with an advance copy of this book by Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.