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Bryan Smith's The Freakshow is a horror novel that falls within the "splatterpunk" sub-genre. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "splatterpunk," it means that books that fall within this sub-genre contain graphic and explicitly violent horror and pornographic scenes. My Bookcrossing book-relay trading buddies also referred to this genre as the "sick shit" genre before the term splatterpunk really caught on in a major way.
In the small town of Pleasant Hills, Tennessee, a freakshow carnival has arrived to entertain the bored locals who have nothing better to do other than clean their rifles. However, the REAL reason the carnival has arrived, is to kill the town's inhabitants and replace them with Stepford-wife type drones in order to empower the dimension the freaks come from. Caught in the middle of some crazy, weird, and perverted super-violent, disturbing action, a few brave characters take on the freakshow monsters so they can save the town - and themselves.
As a seasoned reader familiar with the typical horror-plot "formula," The Freakshow completely took me by surprise. I had no idea this novel fell into the splatterpunk genre I've been hearing so much about until I took the time to read reviews written by other readers.
Chapter 1 leads us right into action - and it never stops. I was expecting a gruesome first chapter, with chapter 2 leading us into the background and development of the heroes destined to save the hick town of Pleasant Hills, but no, The Freakshow is pretty much 100% action until the book's last sentence.
The gritty, explicit violence and pornographic details are horrific indeed, yet, it was hard to turn away. The Freakshow's plot is random and unpredictable, which is always a plus, though it genuinely is pure gore the entire way through.
I got a kick out of Smith's consistent use of the word "organic." Everything was "organic" in this novel, including the organic controls in the massive spider control room (don't ask). Although the term "organic" relates to anything alive, I couldn't help but think of organic food every time it was mentioned. Organic matter. Yummy.
I've got to admit - I do have a sick mind to a certain degree, so I enjoyed my time with The Freakshow. The novel makes for a great conversational piece and is definitely unforgettable. I'm not sure I will ever get into a Lincoln Towncar again without taking my eyes off the gear stick and thinking about this novel. It will be awhile before I pick up any other splatterpunk to read, but when I do, Bryan Smith will be my go-to author.
Splatterpunk and hard-core horror fans - YES!
Readers looking for some sick shit fiction - YES!
Everyone else - NO. You might have nightmares for the rest of your life.
Don't read The Freakshow unless you have a stomach made from steel, and DON'T recommend this novel to your friends unless they are confirmed splatterpunk fans. Your friends and family might never speak to you again if you don't warn them first!
Bryan Smith's other novels include Kayla And The Devil (2011), Soultaker (2009), The Killing Kind (2010), and Depraved (2009).
Click on any image below to review the book in more detail on Amazon.com.
What are your splatterpunk favorites? What are your favorite novels by Bryan Smith?