Friday, July 5, 2013

Freaks, by Kiernan Larwood

I wasn't totally sure what to expect when I started Freaks, by Kiernan Larwood but I would up loving it!

Freaks is about a wolf-girl named Sheba in Victorian London who works as a freak (obviously) in a sideshow. Sheba doesn't know much about her condition - why she is the why she is or where she came from, and has been a side-show freak her entire life. However, she finds new meaning in life when a street urchin named Till comes to see her show, and then goes missing. Sheba and her fellow freaks band together to figure out what happened to Till and several other urchins who work near the Thames River, and what they find out is both shocking and haunting. They turn out to be, as the cover describes, the "weirdest crimefighters ever," and discover that the villain,  Mrs. Crowley, is kidnapping children to use their brains in a sick biochemistry experiment. Ultimately, the freaks make sure everything works out and free the children. Along the way, Sheba learns more about her origins and has more of a sense of family than she's ever had before.

Like I said, I loved this book. The plot was full of twists and turns, and I loved the way Larwood described London and the characters. For instance, when describing the owner of the side-show, Larwood writes, "The stranger was a fat man. It was as if an avalanche of pie crust and gravy had run through a haberdasher's and come out in a dodgy frock coat and a pair of size eleven boots. Grunchgirdle would have fit inside him seven times with room to spare. He was also deeply unattractive. His nose was bulbous and scarlet, a wild tangle of orange hair stuck out all around the edges of his stovepipe hat, and he was wearing a scowl that could have curdled milk." I loved that description and the way it painted the character in my mind - and yes, he turns out to be just as horrid as he sounds! I also loved the descriptions of London and of the children who worked along the river - Larwood described the creep and stench of it all wonderfully. The only thing I'd change about this book is that I wish it had a different title. Freaks just seems a little too predictable.

Also Try: The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm, by Nancy Farmer and Wonder Show, by Hannah Barnaby

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