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 bodies 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.
Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.
The cover and the title alone made me want to read this book instantly. I love reading stories about people with special abilities and talents. Though this is fantasy, it felt real to me and I loved how different each of the abilities were so detailed. One of my favorite elements about this book is that it takes place in the 1980s. Perhaps this is because carnivals and circuses were more popular during this decade but I absolutely adored this idea and time.
Mara is such a strong character who I admired because of her circumstances. Her strength and powerful family surrounding her is so special and unique to her life. This story follows her as she starts to understand the powers surrounding herself and the people around her who possess special abilities as well. She finds a boy with whom she immediately is attached to and is fascinated with and her mother is such a strength to her throughout her identity search. The friends that she considers family are all neat characters who have their own quirks which makes the story not only interesting to read but also entertaining. My biggest excitement with this book was definitely all the wonderful characters. They all made me feel that this was not just a work of fiction but that it might have actually happened! It just felt so real and I wanted it to be real several times throughout this mysterious read!
The time frame for the novel is a week and in that, Mara meets a boy, Gabe and the romance between them is very rushed. Too rushed. I guess you could say that with all the magic and abilities surrounding everyone, they immediately were drawn to each other by these special properties. The timing was very quick in their romance but regardless, I did love reading about the romantic tension involved with each other. Each of them has secrets they’ve hid and each of them learn to trust the other with pieces of their lives. Maybe it was rushed because they were just meant to be together. Who knows. But I was really glad that Mara could find an outlet that was more similar to herself than she realized and one that took her mind off of the mysterious, magical circumstances which takes place here.
Did I mention how much I absolutely LOVED the characters in this book??? They might be some of my favorites that I read in 2016! The depth is incredible and the identity of each of them is so unique that I was never bored reading about their lives or what happened throughout the novel to them. And did I mention the fact that it takes place in the 1980s?! LOVE THAT. The cover is gorgeous and fits great with the subject matter. But what was especially neat was the awesome chapter details and design! Each chapter has the date of the day it covers and an image of a tarot card. The design and artistic aspect of this book was on point and made me completely excited to finish this super quick.
Overall, the characters were out-of-this-world creative, the setting was detailed and delivered in such a vivid way, the tiny details like the cover and chapters were beautiful, and the only thing I didn’t like was the short time frame the whole story took place in. At these times, it was a bit rushed and the romance didn’t feel quite there with the speed. However, it was a fantastic read and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more from Amanda Hocking! I would recommend this read!
4 ****/ 5*****
About Amanda Hocking:
Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom – all three books in her latest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.
Her next book will be Swear, the final book in the My Blood Approves series, and it will be out November 9, 2016. After that, her next book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a travelling sideshow. It will be out sometime in early 2017, with the St. Martin’s Griffin.
For more info about her and her books, here are some other places to check out and ways to contact her:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/amandahocking
Publisher Website: www.worldofamandahocking.com
Q & A with Amanda Hocking:
- Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?
If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.
- What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.
- What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?
There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.
- What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?
I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.
- Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?
For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”
- Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.
- Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I usually have a goal in mind before I start writing, but it varies. Some days, it’s slow going and I hope to get at least 500 words out. Other days, I fly through with thousands of words. So it depends on where I’m at in the book, when it’s due, and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.
- When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?
With all my main characters, I have a really good idea of who they are, and it’s just a matter of showing that to the readers. With the side characters, they tend to be rather one-dimensional, and they grow into the story as they’re needed.
- How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?
FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it.
And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.
- If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?
Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.
- Can you please tell us a little bit about Freeks and where you got the inspiration to write it?
I was going through a rough patch, creatively speaking, and so I just sat back and tried to think of my favorite and what I loved most that I would want to write about.
When I was a kid, I used to get old books at garage sales all the time, and I distinctly remember getting Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and a few old V. C. Andrews novels, which are pulpy Southern Gothic-esque novels. I also watched The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink over and over again (I think I literally ruined the old VHS of The Lost Boys from watching it too much).
So I basically threw all those things together in a soup, and I picked apart the things I liked and wanted to explore more. That became a travelling sideshow in the 80s stopping Louisiana, where a supernatural monster is afoot, and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is smith with a local boy with secrets of his own.
- Freeks is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?
Mara and Gabe are my obvious favorites, since they’re the main characters because I was drawn to them and their story the most. Both of them of them have complex feelings about family and personal identity, and their instant chemistry was fun to write.
But I think Gideon – the namesake and head of sideshow – was actually the biggest surprise, which made him fun in a different way. In the original outlines of the story, he was much a different character – very one-note and cruel – but he completely changed and evolved as I was writing.
- The book is based off of a type of traveling circus that is full of many mysterious acts. If you were to attend a Freekshow, which act would you want to see most?
My favorites are usually the acrobatics, but I think if I attended Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, I would be most excited to see Gideon’s magic act. With his skills and knowledge, I think it would be a really amazing show.
- What do you hope readers will take away from FREEKS after reading it?
With some of my other novels, I deal with heavy themes like life and death, identity, honor, mortality, classism, and family. And while I do definitely touch on those themes in FREEKS, I mostly wrote it as an escape for myself, and that’s what I hope it is for other readers. Life can be hard and frustrating, and I just wanted to write a fun book that readers could get lost in for awhile.
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Probably how chronically shy I am. Writing is a weird profession, because a good 90% of it is perfect for introverts – you sit alone by yourself and make up imaginary friends to go on adventures. But the last 10% – which involves introducing the whole word to your imaginary friends – is the most exciting and rewarding part, but it’s also the most difficult when you’re as shy as I am.
I am giving away a hardcover copy of Freeks by Amanda Hocking via my Instagram page. Head over there and read all the guidelines. Good luck to all!
The Giveaway ends on January 11.