Welcome back everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend, and I want to give a huge thank-you to everyone who joined me in my Horror Weekend!
I’ve been looking forward to working another book review into my schedule, and today is that day! If you haven’t read my first book review on Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, it is on my blog page, and I encourage you to check it out!
Now, let’s dive in!
Today, I am reviewing Amanda Hocking’s novel Freeks. First, I would like to say that this was a pretty good read; probably the best teen paranormal fiction story I’ve ever read.
Freeks is about an eighteen-year-old girl who is part of a traveling carnival whose members all possess supernatural powers from necromancy, to pyrokinesis, to flying, to incredible strength. When the group arrives in the town, Caudry, an eerie wave takes over the air around them, and the main character, Mara, experiences a mysterious romance, the heartache of a missing friend, a tragedy amongst the carnival’s members, and a horrific battle between them and an evil force that terrorizes the carnival at night.
I appreciate the engaging mystery of the story the most. We are immediately introduced to an unsettling conflict when the carnival’s owner Gideon swerves his mobile home off the road after having an unexplained premonition, followed by Mara’s mother, Lyanka, saying, “There’s something off here. I felt it as soon as we got on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I was imagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.” Hocking wastes no time with her story’s beginning, and she proves very well that she knows how to captivate her readers.
Hocking adds to they mystery when a sixteen-year-old member of the carnival, Blossom, goes missing the next day, after the start of Mara’s new romance. Mara had met a strange, handsome young man named Gabe at a house party the night they arrived in Caudry, and she wound up spending the night there, and when she returned to the site of the carnival, she is informed that Blossom had not returned. They assume that she is most likely attending a music festival in a neighboring city. However, throughout the story, Hocking cleverly gives eerie, eldritch clues that Blossom is in fact not at a music festival. One example of these clues is when Mara vividly hears Blossom’s voice saying, “’Will you walk into my parlor?’ Said the Spider to the Fly.”
The underlying romance in this story is sweet, emotional, and suspenseful. After meeting Gabe, Mara describes him as mysterious with a “darkness to him”. She constantly mentions the unusual heat he radiates, and the unsettling feeling he gave her, but at the same time, she is absolutely in love with him. Gabe is the first person to ever have such strong feelings for Mara instead of hating or judging her. Although his emotions are genuine, Mara keeps her job with the carnival a secret, desperate to hold onto him.
As the carnival continues, everyone involved begins to complain about either not feeling well or that something is wrong with their powers. Lyanka has constant migraines, Mara’s best friend, Roxy, cannot use her pyrokinesis, and even a pair of tiger sisters are distraught. The air seems to have some sort of paranormal plague. One result of this is Mara’s recurring nightmare of an old woman screaming something at her in another language. Mara fears that the dream has some dark meaning, but she is too afraid to ask her mother, being that she is already stressed out. However, we do learn that these grim nightmares do carry a sinister warning.
I admire Hocking’s idea of the dreams. I’ve always believed that dreams act as spiritual messages. Hocking actually uses a tremendous amount of spirituality throughout the novel. Tarot cards are illustrated throughout the book, and Mara’s mother reads tarot cards to her customers, and as I mentioned before, Lyanka possesses the gift of necromancy. Spells are even cast toward the end of the novel.
The chilling horror of the story continues when a monstrous creature begins to terrorize the carnival grounds afterhours. The creature even manages to nearly kill two members of the group, only worsening the dilemma. However, despite this, we learn that there is far much more opposing Mara and her loved ones as we learn the relation between Caudry, Gabe, everyone’s paranormal powers, a missing teenager, nightmares, and the being that lurks around the carnival.
Freeks truly is a spine-chilling story that kept me on the edge of my seat. Amanda Hocking has such an amazing talent, and she shows it off with this great novel. If you enjoy mystery, suspense, monsters, spirituality, or even witchcraft, I highly recommend this one!