Friday, December 18, 2009


I struggle back from the near death of a severe cold to cop out and reprint something I wrote elsewhere. Oh, well at least it's a book that is well worth reading, Bryan Smith's Freakshow. If you actually read this site, you know that Smith (Deathbringer, Soultaker, House of Blood, Queen of Blood) is one of my favorite writers, and this is Smith's most gonzo, balls-to-the-wall action/horror novel. i guarantee you haven't read anything quite like it.

A carnival comes to a small Tennessee town. But this carnival is manned by strange creatures, who abduct the inhabitants of the town, savagely torture them, murder them, then replace them with clones under their control. They do this to one small town each year. The main characters are Mike and Helen, who in two parallel story lines fight for survival, and to end the carnival’s reign of terror.

Circuses and clowns have been used in horror before, but never to quite this much effect. It is filled with outstanding squirm-inducing thrills.

This isn’t a book for those looking for slow buildup, tepid pacing, and incremental character build-up. You are immediately dropped into the action, and it never slows down. In fact, I wondered at first if it was a sequel to an earlier book (it isn’t, although it does reference the author’s earlier work) since you are instantly in the thick of things. Most horror novels would start with the carnival’s arrival in the bucolic town, but when you start The Freakshow, the terror has already started, and most of the town’s residents are gone. The action is grisly, with scenes of incredible savagery, some sexual. The story really grabs you, you feel like one of the trapped townspeople, caught up and unable to escape. Although it should not be read by the squeamish, this book is highly recommended.

I'd love to see a sequel to this one.

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