All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Blog Tour Review: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

on March 3, 2017

freeksFreeks 
Amanda Hocking
Pan Macmillan
2017, 380p
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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?

Freeks is a ‘return to the world of the Trylle series’, I hadn’t read anything else set there and thought that this novel stood up just fine on its own. It introduces the reader to Mara, the daughter of a necromancer who travels with her mother around the country as part of a carnival. Almost everyone working for the carnival is ‘gifted’ in some way or other – pyromancer, psychic, strongman, self-healer, necromancer, etc.

The carnival arrives in a small town called Cauldry in Louisiana and most people in the travelling convoy feel that this town is a bit….different. There’s a vibe, an aura in the town that seems to be affecting those in the group with special abilities and even Mara, who doesn’t really seem to have tapped into any abilities yet, has a feeling in her gut. Some of the people want to leave but the town has promised a good cheque if they perform for 10 nights and the crew desperately needs that money to get themselves to their next location.

On her first night in town Mara goes for a walk and stumbles across a party where she meets Gabe Alvarado. The attraction is instant and for the first time Mara has met someone that makes her think about her lifestyle, about the fact that she’ll be leaving in just over a week and isn’t likely to see him again after that. Things click with Gabe but at the carnival, very strange things are happening at night. Workers disappear or are savagely attacked and the urge to leave, get to the next town gets stronger by the day for some of the workers.

This book was middle of the road for me….I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. It was okay. The setting was quite aggressively 80s – lots of mentions of listening to bands like U2 on cassette tapes as well as jokes like “You must be Corey Hart” which I had to google because I was born the year this book was set and it went over my head. To be honest I’m not entirely sure why the author chose the 80s other than to showcase some music she may have liked or perhaps to remove the option of the internet when it came to attempting to discover exactly what was attacking the carnival workers and what to do about it.

Mara and Gabe’s relationship felt very instantaneous and I know time was of the essence because Mara wasn’t going to be in town very long but I like more conversation and less drooling over what Gabe looks like shirtless in order to establish a strong connection between two characters. Gabe (and Mara, to a lesser extent) came across as somewhat flawless – he’s basically the perfect specimen of a man who instantly adores Mara and wants to do nothing more than spend time with her and help her with whatever weirdness is going on. At first Mara is even reluctant for him to know that she works for the carnival – she’s used to disdain and contempt, people who view them as trash. Despite this she chooses to meet him at the carnival despite obviously knowing everyone that works there and clearly she gets outed. Gabe is different however, he doesn’t care that Mara is a travelling carnival worker.

A lot of this book is based around the fact that despite being the daughter of a somewhat powerful necromancer and hanging around a bunch of other special people, Mara appears to have no powers of her own to tap into…..but of course this isn’t right and it’s going to be up to her to end up saving everyone from the ‘thing’ that is constantly attacking the camp. Unfortunately the execution of this reveal and Mara’s understanding of what she might possibly have to do is kind of sloppily and hastily done. A large portion of this novel’s wordcount is devoted to the build up around Mara and Gabe’s relationship and toward the final confrontation with whatever it is that’s hunting them and the climax in turn feels rushed and like it takes up less of the book than it should. I will say that Gabe’s secret was unexpected and I liked that addition but felt like more time could’ve been spent on it.

For me, the highlight of this book was the carnival itself and the workers that traveled together and bonded and developed strong family-like relationships. There were some really interesting characters among them and I liked how much they looked out for each other and how close they were. It was a really great setting for a novel and I have only read a couple of books that have included it and because it’s so different to my life, I find it fascinating.

So for me it was a great setting but a bit of a disappointing ‘mystery’ – I was hoping for more action, a bit more of an in depth story. Despite the amount of pages, it’s a lot of filler and not a lot of substance.

5/10

Book #39 of 2017

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