Freeks by Amanda Hocking: Book Review

Freeks by amanda hocking book review

What is this about?: Mara, who is part of a travelling carnival comes to Caudry for a show, but something starts to attack her friends causing tempers to flare and tensions to rise as blame gets thrown about as to who is responsible.

What else is this about?: Mara meets Gabe, who has a home and normal family and a bed that isn’t a cot in her Winnebago which she shares with her necromancer mother. 

Blurb:  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.

Stars: 3.5/5 Because Mara and the carnival were absolutely brilliant.

Freeks is a complicated book for me. There’s the absolutely captivating nature of the carnival and its inhabitants, and then there’s Gabe and Mara, who aren’t as compelling as I hoped they’d be.

Mara and the carnival she and her mother live with and work for come to Caudry almost broke and in need of a solid showing and payment from the town for their presence there. All is going well until Blossom, one of Mara’s friends disappears, and later on the carnival inhabitants are attacked, and even put in hospital as a result. The law in the town blames the carnival’s tigers, but given this is a carnival inhabited by people with supernatural powers you know the answers to these questions aren’t that easy.

Mara, when she’s with the carnival, is a captivating character. She’s someone who has no powers like Rosie’s pyrokenisis, or Gideon’s mind-reading abilities, or even her mother’s ability to communicate with the dead, so she’s everywhere helping people, and knowing them and their troubles. She’s a wonderful way to get to know this colourful, interesting cast of characters and I truly wished the story has stayed within the carnival.

But, there’s Gabe, a bad boy of sorts who catch’s Mara’s eye when she’s invited to his sister’s party. Their relationship happens to quickly for me because I enjoyed Mara so much. I wanted to know more about her, her mother and the carnival than I did Gabe. I do get her longing for a normal life, for a bed and a home because what is clear is how nomadic her life is. You can’t fault her for wanting something solid.

Much of the action takes place in the carnival, surrounded by her friends and mother as they struggle to find out who is attacking them. Very soon she discovers her latent powers are coming to the fore and… resulting in an interesting, unexpected showdown. There’s a twist in the tale to Gabe, but I found it lacking because he was a character I didn’t much relate to.

The strengths in this book and Hocking’s writing are evidenced in the carnival and the characters that inhabit it – it’s a huge cast of characters but Hocking makes their time count, making them real and leaving me wanting to know more about them. Locking Mara into the desire for a normal life is understandable, but it forces her into a corner as a character and with Gabe, and to be honest, it’s nothing new and nothing you haven’t read before. On the upside, it doesn’t take away from the larger world Hocking has built and that’s the exciting part of this story.

Have you read Freeks? What do you think of it? 

3 Comments

  • I love this version of the cover with the red and black! I also love books about carnivals/circuses or that use that as a setting, so that’s awesome that that’s such a strength of the book. You have me curious to see that part of the book. But that’s too bad that you didn’t relate to Gabe and the things to do with him. Funny though how everyone always wants what they don’t have, like how Mara wants a normal, steady life even though plenty of people would love to switch places with her!

  • Maria Behar says:

    I’ve been wanting to read Hocking’s novels for the longest time! (Yeah, I know — there are SO many authors I say that about, lol.) She’s well-known for being a riveting writer. And I do own a couple of her books, I think. (They’re somewhere in my large home library….)

    This book kind of reminds me a bit of “Menagerie”, by Rachel Vincent (which I haven’t read, either). The stories are not the same, though. But the thing is, it seems that several authors have written about the sinister aspects of carnivals. I wonder why….

    I loved reading your review! You have a very balanced analysis of the plot and characters here. It looks like the most interesting aspects of the book are Mara, and what takes place within the carnival itself. Still, I do want to find out more about her relationship with Gabe!

    I agree with Kristen that this is a very nice alternate cover.

    Thanks for the great review!! <3 🙂

  • Greg says:

    I agree almost completely. the carnival aspects were the best part of the book and the Gabe stuff… meh. I liked Mara but Gabe was just… bland. I thought Hocking actually brought the carnival to life pretty well when she focused on that, and the creepiness of the attacks had me interest too. So yeah… mixed bag. 🙂

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