Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Freak by Jennifer Hillier

 

FREAK is the sequel to CREEP, and yes, you have to read the first book first. It takes place after the events of the last book with the characters trying to recover from their trauma. Sheila is struggling to remain stable in her career as her involvement in the murder trial becomes increasingly public, and Jerry is suffering from serious PTSD after getting attacked by a killer. He recovered, but has a grotesque scar to show for it and his marriage is on the verge of failing.

Meanwhile, Abby Maddox is in jail and not happy about it. And other people aren't happy about it, too. Dead bodies are showing up, demanding that she be freed. There are creepy fansites devoted to her crimes and beauty. The news calls her Angel Face, because the news is gross, and society doesn't really think women can be soulless killers-- especially not if they have pretty faces. Everything basically seems like a total hot mess that's going to drag all people involved down like they're standing in a sinkhole full of shit.

And that's this book in a nutshell.

At first I was pretty into this book. I initially wasn't super happy that the focus shifted to Jerry because I don't really like police procedurals, but I thought that his trauma and insights were really interesting and he grew on me as a character. But I never liked him as much as I did Sheila. Sheila was problematic as all get out, but I felt like her situation was way more relatable and I liked the dichotomy of her teaching psychology while also suffering from a serious psychological condition herself. That was kind of going on with Jerry, too, but I felt like he was way more one-note as a character.

 ***ONE MILD POTENTIAL SPOILER TO FOLLOW***

FREAK is a lot more violent than CREEP. The ending especially left me feeling a little wince-y. My least favorite genres of horror are splatterpunk and torture porn and I kind of felt like this verged on being in that genre. There was also a twist at the end that I didn't like. It feels a little cheap, making your villains LGBT+ as a shock, you know? That was pretty common in the 70s and 80s, and it's disappointing to see it now. I'm not saying that no villains should be queer or queer-coded, but when the only queer character in a book is the villain, that's not a good look.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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