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The Freakshow by Bryan Smith
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The Freakshow

by Bryan Smith

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Pros - plot was unique, creative, and quickly paced. Characters were convincing. Bryan Smith writes with a style that's a joy to read. Cons - just isn't really my kind of book, too in your face shock factor and a bit too much torture/dread. Too much dulls it for me a bit, not because I become too disturbed, but it just makes it all blend together with less impact. I love circus and freak themes and he certainly didn't fail to disappoint with the villains in this one! ( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Rating: 3 of 5

What I expected: lots of splatter, moderate suspense, so-so characterization, and entertaining premise.

Most of the "scares" revolved around the humans' fear of torture and enslavement by more powerful beings.

I'd recommend to "gorehounds." (Definitely falls under splatterpunk aka extreme horror.) ( )
  flying_monkeys | Apr 14, 2013 |
Good book. Very fast paced. Craziness ensues from page 1 and doesn't stop until the last chapter. ( )
  BunnyCates | Jul 30, 2011 |
Great concept (interdimensional freaks taking over the world one small town at a time. Poorly done story telling (too much gratuitous sex at inaapropriate times and characters with all the depth of a bowl of soggy cornflakes) ( )
  klarsenmd | Apr 21, 2010 |
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A carnival arrives in a small town. Bad stuff happens.

I'd tried Bryan Smith's first book House of Blood twice but quit because I didn't like the writing much. I decided to try The Freakshow (his third book) to see if he'd gotten better. Well, The Freakshow is much better written than House of Blood. That being said it still had a boatload of problems.

Bryan Smith seems to be growing into a very good writer. Some bits of this book were very powerfully written. I had some issues with the writing style, but overall it really gripped me. The problem is that he is still pretty uneven. When he's good, he's quite good. Then he would write bits of narration such as: He freaked and His eyes bugged out. Maybe I'm just old, but slangy stuff like that should be reserved for characters to say or think. It makes the author seem like a teenager himself when it shows up as narration.

His characters were pretty devoid of character. You can see he's going for the Jack Ketchum/Edward Lee type of gut-wrenching horror here and his writing almost pulls it off. The problem is the characters weren't well written enough to make you care. All were pretty flat, stock horror movie types that it was tough to feel much for. Without believable characters this type of horror isn't nearly as effective.

Still, I didn't mind the on again/off again writing and flat characters. What really got me was the... senselessness of the story. It never really felt like it flowed together to tell a cohesive tale. Instead it felt like it was just meandering its way between pointless (though sometimes very well written) scenes until a quickie wrap-up brought things to a close. Bryan Smith has the makings of a good writer, but he isn't yet a good storyteller. I got the sense that he knew what he was trying to say, but just wasn't very clear in conveying it to us. Lots of unexplained things happened that never really went anywhere. What was the deal with the guy in the woods for instance? Was he related to the carnival? I dunno. I guess so.

He really could stand to polish up his skills with foreshadowing and pacing. Stephen King is a master of this. Bryan Smith is not. New plot twists would just clumsily plop in out of nowhere. Things were kinda-sorta-mostly explained at the end, but it was hundreds of pages of stuff that felt arbitrary and unconnected only to be suddenly (and very clumsily) wrapped up in the end by a character telling what happened. He needs to work on weaving the details into the context of the story, revealing a little at a time rather than the 'Presto!' approach used here.

I'm kind of hung on a final decision here. I finished this one, but towards the end it felt like I was grinding through just to complete it. Still, I will pick up his future books to see where he goes. If he can get his storytelling up to par with his writing, he will really be something. ( )
1 vote jseger9000 | Jul 16, 2008 |
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Book description
The Flaherty Brothers Traveling Carnivale and Freakshow has rolled into Pleasant Hills, Tennessee, and the quiet little town will never be the same. In fact, much of the town won't survive. At first glance, the freakshow looks like so many others--lurid, rundown, decrepit. But this freakshow is definitely one of a kind...

The townspeople can't resist the lure of the tawdry spectacle, though it isn't mere morbid curiosity that draws them into the freakshow's inescapable web. What waits for them behind this curtain are hardly the usual performers and tricks. The main attractions are living nightmares, the acts center on torture and slaughter...and the stars of the show are the unsuspecting customers themselves.
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