Disclaimer: I received an eARC from netgalley in exchange for a review. This review is spoiler free.
Come one, come all, to Gideon’s Traveling Sideshow, a roving carnival traveling to their latest destination where the payout proves to be grand. As long as they make it to the vernal equinox. However, this isn’t your typical side show filled with cons and shenanigans. No, many of the members of the troupe have real supernatural powers– pyrokinesis, telekinsesis, speaking with the dead, are among the few gifts the novel mentions. No matter where Mara turns, everyone seems to have a special ability. Except for her. Even her fortune telling mother has secrets. Because of this, Mara dreams of having a normal life, free from the only show she’s known. Their latest town may be more trouble than anyone bargained for.
As a tarot reader, I was insanely curious to read this book; I love books that include tarot in their plots. Which is why I wanted a copy to review. I wanted to know how Hocking treated tarot in Freeks. I’m happy to report she doesn’t disappoint. Right off the bat we’re created with a hand drawn tarot card image section divider. Which instantly made me long for a real purchasable deck. I hope they do, the images were fun and fresh.
Mara’s mother is the carnival’s fortune teller, which meant the cards played a more prominent part in the book. Whenever Hocking brought the cards up, I took notice. I’m happy to report that Hocking knows her stuff. Lyanka has her own reading rituals and has a good grasp of modern meanings. Even though the cards are treated more as a prop for her powers, the readings done are easy to read and flow well.
Death DOES show up in a reading, which always makes me flinch. I quickly relaxed however because the card was treated almost exactly in the same way I introduce it to my clients when they draw it. It was almost spooky, and I wondered if somehow Hocking remote viewed in on some of my readings.
Overall, this is a fun young adult novel. At it’s heart it’s a coming-of-age story for Mara, who wants love and a normal life. In this new town she meets a boy whom she thinks she can have a short relationship with before the Sideshow moves out. She learns to deal with relationships as a young adult and she talks through the difficulties of being a freak and wanting to be normal. However, the main gist of the book doesn’t happen till well after half-way through. Which meant I wanted a longer book, to learn more about Mara’s past and where she came from.
Bottom Line: Freeks is an easy read. I stayed up all night long to finish it. The book’s twists and mysteries kept me guessing– which is the mark of a good book for me. The world is fantastic and I found myself wishing I could stay in it for longer. Freeks reads as a stand alone book, but I’m hoping Hocking continues the adventures of Mara.