Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…
Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.
When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.
But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever. (goodreads.com)
Love the cover. Totally drew me in.The premise is really interesting too. I have a soft spot for all things carnival so if one is involved it’s kind of a no-brainer unless the book sounds like a total turd. But FREEKS sounded really interesting so I was all for it.
Except it turned out to be rather . . . blah. The writing in particular is juvenile, although I hesitate to use that word. There’s no flair in the writing at all so it just kind of fell limp on the page and there was a lot of word repetition that really annoyed me and spoke to the lack of substance in the writing itself. I was reading an ARC, however, this was speaking more to style as opposed to typos. Within a short paragraph words like ‘hands’ or ‘lips’ would be repeated three or four times in even fewer sentences. Once or twice I can brush off, but when it keeps happening that’s writing style and it’s lackluster.
Throw in the ridiculous relationship and I was pretty much over FREEKS. This story takes place over the course of a week and these two kids fall head over heels, I’m going to abandon by family for you, in love and I just kept rolling my eyes every time they were on the page together or every time Mara thought about Gabe. I didn’t think this kind of insta-love was still a thing. Apparently I was wrong.
The plot itself played second fiddle to the blooming romance so what tension there was regarding the thing attacking carnival crew was buried under an unhealthy blooming obsession. What’s going on with Gabe is not subtle. I guessed his deal the second he stepped onto the page in the beginning of the book. And I thought the climax was kind of . . . eh. It thread through the story nicely, but it’s something that also isn’t subtle. At least the why could be guessed fairly early on, if not the what.
I mean the plot’s cohesive enough even if the writing leaves something to be desired. I didn’t feel like Mara was an active participant in her story for most of it and any growth she had was minimal and centered around the last few chapters of the book where the plot finally comes to a head. All the other characters were pretty thin save for Mara’s mom. She appeared to be the most robust out of them all, but that isn’t saying much.
I think FREEKS had great potential, but the execution fell flat. For something involving a carnival it felt lifeless. While I don’t need WORDS in every book I read, I need a little bit of flair. This had pretty much none. If you want a whirlwind romance this is probably the book for you, but if you’re looking for more story and better writing you should pass.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.