I love creepy carnivals in fiction so I decided to make The Freakshow my first Bryan Smith novel. I've accumulated a few of his books though the Leisure Horror Book Club and decided it was time to try one of them.
Mike makes the biggest mistake of his life when he decides to check out the traveling carnival and freakshow, along with the rest of the citizens of the small Tennessee town. Soon he's running for his life from a freak on slits. Meanwhile, Heather returns to her hometown to find out why she can't reach her mother. She walks in on her mother shooting a hideous clown. Mike and Heather realize that this carnival isn't about fun, games and candy floss, this one is all about grotesque freaks, torture and gore.
The novel tells the two main characters' (Mike and Heather) stories in alternate chapters, ending each one with a cliffhanger worthy of R.L. Stine.
There isn't much of a plot. Basically it's just freaks killing people in gruesome ways and the main characters trying to escape with a few twisted sex scenes thrown in. But the idea of alien freaks using a carnival to take over the world, one small town at a time, is unique and creepy.
Despite its lack of plot, the novel manages to hold your interest with its quick pace thanks to lots of gruesome action. That is, until the halfway point when I became bored of plotless gore scenes and struggled to finish reading it.
The poorly developed characters didn't help. I can't tell you anything about Mike or Heather's personalities because they don't have one. They're just the usual characters you would see in a slasher film: the average guy and the pretty (but dumb) girl. I didn't care about them so I wasn't interested in reading about their escape from the freaks. But the villains - the freaks - are interesting and their disgusting mutations are described in detail.
If you enjoy non-stop action and gore, and don't mind one-dimensional characters, check this one out. But if you're like me and can't get into a novel without intriguing characters, then skip it.