Mara is a carnie and the daughter of a carnie. She and her mother travel with Gideon’s outfit, which is a refuge for those who are…different. It’s also almost flat broke. When an offer of work comes from the small town of Caudry, they have barely enough money to get there. And once they arrive, no one is comfortable or happy – there’s a strange current in the air that puts everyone on edge and makes their powers unreliable – but now they can’t afford to leave until payday.
The one bright spot for Mara is Gabe, a rich townie she met on her first night in Caudry. Mara has never felt a connection like this before, and she wants to soak up every second of Gabe’s company while she can. The carnival is only in town for ten days, after all, and there’s no way she can stay in Caudry, even if Gabe wanted her to.
While Mara was falling in love with Gabe that first night in Caudry, Blossom, a younger teen, wandered off and didn’t come back. Soon after her disappearance, strange attacks begin. Something demonically fast and incredibly strong seems to be targeting the carnival – especially those with supernatural powers. They can’t leave Caudry until they get paid, so they’re going to have to fight. And Mara, with her untapped power, may be the only one who can save them.
Amanda Hocking is known for her amazingly brilliant fantasy series, many of which explore unique supernatural creatures and powers. As far as I know this is her only standalone title. While the writing was engaging, it took a little too long for the story to develop. Strange occurrences went unexplained and unexplored until almost halfway through the book, which lessened the tension that was trying to build. Additionally, the insta-love between Gabe and Mara seemed unrealistic and didn’t advance the plot as much as it needed to. Had Freeks been another series Hocking would have had more time to develop relationships and plot threads that were interesting but sparse, and I’m curious about her decision to make it a standalone. Having said all of that, I really liked Mara and the carnies that were her friends and family. Hocking’s skill as a writer is apparent, as I couldn’t put the book down even when I was exasperated with the plot or characters’ decisions. Overall, I would recommend this book to current fans of Hocking’s books, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to start with Freeks if they had never read any of her titles before.
An Advance Reader Copy of Freeks was given to me by the publisher, St.Martin’s Griffin, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.