Entertaining, although not as dark as I’d expected. 3.5/5.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book.
The blurb: 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.
Freeks is an entertaining YA story with a diverse cast of likeable characters. In fact, they were all so likeable, I wondered whether the few “baddies” could have done with being a bit darker to balance things up and add to the drama.
I enjoyed the 1980s setting: not only were the period details delightful, but it also made many aspects of the plot more believable (no smart phones to pass round info instantly, for example).
If you’re coming to this book looking for be frightened, I think you’ll be disappointed. I don’t know why, but I was expecting Freeks to be scarier. There are a few creepy and tense moments, but genuine scares are absent. However, while I don’t think this book would scare a younger reader, it’s still solidly YA because of the romance elements and there is one (commendably safe) sex scene.
I also found the pacing to be a little off. The beginning was good, with lots happening quickly, and the middle sustained this pace, but then the resolution felt rushed. So much was packed into the last few chapters they passed in something of a blur, dampening any menace or tension.
I’d recommend this to fans of Twilight, with the added bonus that the romance in Freeks is entirely appropriate and Mara is in no way as drippy as Bella. Also, there’s no love triangle here: another plus. Gabe and Mara’s relationship might be too “insta-love”ish (that’s a word now) for some, but if you’re prepared to suspend your disbelief for humans with various supernatural powers being stalked by a shadowy monster, I think you can also give two teenagers with raging hormones a break.
Overall: Freeks has a promising set-up, great setting and likeable characters, but is lacking in the genuine menace I’d have liked to balance the romantic elements of the plot.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul