Book Review: Freaks Like Us by Jackie Trippier Holt

16071648Title: Freaks Like Us
Author: Jackie Trippier Holt
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Book Snuffler Company
Publication Date: October 11th 2012
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Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages! Welcome to Burfoot’s Circus, the travelling home of freaks, misfits, drop-outs and the socially inept – sometimes all of the above – come together for your entertainment pleasure tonight, out of a love of performing in some cases, and simply fear of discovery in others.

“We have little people, fae, werewolves and mutations, hybrids and humans in The Ring together! We have demons and dogs and those who prefer to keep silent about the stories of how and why they came to join the circus.

“Yet, most important of all, we have acts! We have The Saw Man, The Cat Boy, The Violet Illusion, Fearless Henry, Lady Fortunata, Benedict The Storyteller, The Bearded Lady, Snake and too, too many more to mention.

“Catch the show now, while you can. We can’t stay long in any town and who knows where we’ll be next? And honestly, folks, our circus isn’t what it was and certainly isn’t what it should be. See it now and you’ll be able to say, ‘Burfoot’s? I knew it before it was famous’.

“Because nothing can remain a secret forever.”

Throw everything you excepted about new adult literature out of the window and say hello to Freaks Like Us. This book is unique, original, entertaining and enjoyable. At times, I laughed out loud. At others, I felt ready to cry. It’s a short read and a quick one, but it’s definitely interesting enough to give it a try.

Burfoot’s Circus has been around since the dawn of time – or at least, for a very long time. The circus artists are nature’s freaks, an eclectic mix of shapeshifters, half-animals, dwarves, fae and even vampires. All of them joined the circus because they saw no way out. All of them have something in common: they’re different. They’re unique, but their uniqueness is not accepted but frowned upon. A circus is the only place they can be themselves. The current ringmaster, a dwarf named Zack, brings a new participant into the circus. He’s simply called “The Boy”, because his old name no longer matters and he gets to choose his new one only after he’s been at the circus for a year.

“The Boy” is an interesting character. He seems remarkably intelligent, but we know next to nothing about him. What’s his real name? Where does he come from? Why does he hide in the circus? His actions are at times extremely unpredictable, which kind of made me like him, although I don’t think I know him well enough to like him yet. The ringmaster was a fun character as well. His concern for the circus and the well being of his artists was obvious. He’s a sincere person, and always willing to make the best out of every situation, and I envied him for that.

The main love triangle focus here is on Violet, Hector and Henry. Violet is a strange mix of a cat and a girl, as in Catwoman but not just a suit. Or something like that. She has cat ears and a tail. Hector is the same, and although they had a brief relationship at some point – they were best friends, but never even kissed – that tension is still there. For Hector, Violet is the only woman he came close to loving. For Violet, it seems as if Hector treats every woman, including her, with the same carelessness. When Hector starts hooking up with Violet’s best friend Ruby, and Violet – although unknowing – begins a relationship with vampire Henry, the key elements are in place for all hell to break loose.

I liked Violet, although her indecisiveness bothered me, as well as her reaction to something awful Henry does at some point in the novel. She doesn’t value herself enough, or doesn’t think herself worthy enough, and most of her actions or based on this lack of self-esteem. It’s an interesting starting point, and I hope that in the following novels she moves beyond this point to evolve into a stronger, more confident person.

The setting was unique, abnormal and totally awesome. The circus looks like a great place, but after every corner hide dark shadows and lingering secrets. The circus’ rules are old, some even magical, and breaking the code may have dire consequences. Nevertheless it’s a fun, friendly world, and the entire circus grew seems to get along well. I liked how I got to see in the mind of many characters and got to know him better. The author has a way of briefly painting a character, and even though it’s brief you get the feeling you’ve known them for years.

The ending left me guessing. It’s very open, leaving room for other novels. In particular, I wondered who “The Boy” actually was, and I can’t wait to find out. The world of Freaks Like Us was intriguing enough to pull me in, the setting wonderful and imaginative and the characters divers and likeable.

Freaks Like Us is not suitable for a younger audience because of some explicit scenes. I wouldn’t recommend it to YA audience, only to a new adult audience and older. It reminded me of the first Darren Shan novels about a circus filled with freaks, but then for an older audience, and less grim and menacing. An excellent read, and very enjoyable.

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