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'Freaks' is daring, exciting and even a bit educational

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- People have always been fascinated with what they consider freaks -- people who are different and just don't fit in with the rest of the world. As far back as Victorian London, further even, people have been interested in seeing freaks in what we would now call a carnival sideshow.

"Freaks" by Kieran Larwood is set in England, mainly London, during the time of Queen Victoria. It is about a group of freaks who are part of a traveling sideshow. The action in the book begins when some of the poor children of London, who scavenge the banks of the Thames for things to sell, go missing.

Larwood mixes historical fiction, some science fiction and some good old-fashioned mystery together in a novel that is fast paced and interesting to read. Nothing is really revealed or set in stone about who did what until the very end. Even then, the resolutions are very shocking.

The main character, Sheba, is a young freak who is covered in hair from head to toe. She is called the wolf-girl because of her hair, her elongated teeth and her sharp senses of smell and hearing. She is a truly amazing character because of what she does in spite of the danger that faces the group at every turn.

Some of the other main characters, Sister Moon and Monkeyboy, are also freaks in the group and are pretty interesting. Sister Moon is a Japanese girl who was trained to be a ninja, complete with swords and throwing stars. Monkeyboy is just that -- a boy who looks and acts exactly like a monkey.

Larwood uses vivid imagery in some great ways, and some horrible ways, when describing the sights (and smells!) of London. When reading "Freaks," you truly feel as if you're right there next to Sheba and the others on the banks of the Thames.

There are plenty of action scenes and fight scenes (my favorite). Of course, there's also a lot of mystery involved in trying to figure out where the children are and who took them. If you're a person who likes mystery, action, adventure and a touch of science fiction, then "Freaks" is the book for you. It is an awesome book to read, and it's even slightly educational!


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