The Freaks Are Coming: A Brett Riley Book Review

by - March 04, 2022

Suffering daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies, four high school friends take it upon themselves to accidentally open a portal to another dimension. What started out as an evening activity of live action role playing turned into a deadly creature terrorizing their small Arkansas town.

American literature professor, award-winning screenwriter and accomplished science fiction and horror novelist Brett Riley debuts his action-packed YA series with Freaks. Friends Micah Sterne, Jamie Entmann, Gabriella Davison and Christian Allen have been consistently picked on by school bullies Kenneth Del Ray, Brayden Sears and Gavin Cloverleaf for years. Their hatred for these bullies grows into an unhealthy obsession with seeking revenge, especially once the open portal not only releases other-worldly creatures but gives the four of them super powers.

The bad news? Kenneth also stumbled into the side effects from the portal while he was lurking outside in an attempt to bully them in their own backyards.

Even more bad news? One of the creatures released from the portal, a Go’kan named Na’ul, has its eyes set on the teenagers and destroying everything they love.

The novel is chalk full of beloved science fiction tributes, from Stranger Things and Supernatural to X-Men and The Goonies. What it lacks, however, is the same amount of depth. Opportunities to expand upon the creature’s background, the origin of the book of spells and the friendship of the characters were missed in the first book of this series.

This fast-paced, easy read does leave unresolved conflicts among this friend group as well as with one of their bullies. Although they all share this new life and the repercussions of what they have done, they can not seem to put the past aside to deal with the bigger conflict of what else was let into their world.

The ending also asks the question of how well they will continue to work with one another, with careful concern over Micah. He was already exhibiting major behavioral concerns, and the trauma he experienced over the course of this novel is not doing him any favors.

The second novel in the Freaks series, Travelers, will be available August 2, 2022.

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