Freakslaw: A Captivating Journey into Queer Horror Literature

Freakslaw by Jane Flett, a book review by Jim Mcleod

In 2024, I’ve had the opportunity to explore more “queer” horror literature than any other year in my 16 years of reviewing the genre. It wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, but rather a fortuitous turn of events that led me to these books. This year has been particularly exceptional in terms of my reading experiences. And it’s heartening to witness the evolution of the horror genre. The literature being produced not only upholds high standards of writing but also ventures into uncharted territories. Challenging the traditional narratives and perspectives that were in danger of stagnation.

When I received a copy of Jane Flett’s novel Freakslaw, I was immediately drawn in by the captivating cover and the intriguing back cover synopsis. The cast of characters further piqued my interest. Prompting me to set aside the book I was currently reading and immerse myself in the world of Freakslaw.

Jane Flett’s debut novel, Freakslaw, is a spellbinding work of literary horror that captivates the reader from the outset with its vivid portrayal of a circus arriving in town. Set in the stifling summer of 1997 in the repressed Scottish town of Pitlaw. The story unfolds against a backdrop of yearning for change and hope. With the arrival of the unconventional funfair, Freakslaw, the town is introduced to a vibrant cast of characters. Including deviant queers, a contortionist witch, and a powerful fortune teller.

Freakslaw is no ordinary funfair

It’s a tumultuous storm that promises to disrupt the status quo and awaken the deepest desires of the town’s residents. While delving into dark and ancient rivalries between the circus and the town’s ancestors.

While reminiscent of the chaos seen in “A League of Gentlemen,” Freakslaw, transcends clichéd and offensive characters. Presenting a sensitive and enthralling group that is sure to charm any reader. However, beneath the surface allure, there exists a profound darkness within both the circus folk and the townspeople. And Freakslaw, fearlessly confronts unsettling and discomforting themes. While the novel may initially appear light-hearted, Flett adeptly utilizes the whimsical setting to navigate weighty topics. From toxic masculinity to raw desires, demonstrating that the townsfolk can be just as perilous as the individuals within Freakslaw.

Flett’s writing style is disconcertingly sensual,

Drawing readers into an immersive and encompassing experience. Her darkly lyrical and poetic prose adds depth and richness to the narrative. Employing narrative devices to create a reading experience as twisted and frenzied as the events within the story. With its ability to transport readers into its world and envelop them in its evocative and irresistible spell. Freakslaw makes the experiences of the funfair and the town of Pitlaw almost tangible, immersing readers in a truly dazzling manner.

Freakslaw is a meticulously crafted novel that is a must-read for fans of queer literary horror. It explores profound themes such as chosen family and the arduous journey of self-discovery through a deeply immersive narrative. Well-developed characters, and a captivating storyline. This novel not only resonates with readers but also leaves a lasting and profound impact on anyone who delves into its pages.

Freakslaw by Jane Flett 

Freakslaw by Jane Flett  book review

Discover the dazzling new queer literary horror novel about chosen family and the risks it takes to become the person you want to be.

‘The glittery punk offspring of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love and Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus.’ Chelsea G. Summers, author of A Certain Hunger

A travelling funfair of seductive troublemakers arrive in a repressed Scottish town. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s the summer of ’97 and the Scottish town of Pitlaw is itching for change.

Enter the Freakslaw – a travelling funfair populated by deviant queers, a contortionist witch, the most powerful fortune teller, and other architects of mayhem. It doesn’t take long for the Freakslaw folk to infiltrate Pitlaw’s grey world. Where the town’s teenagers – none more so than Ruth and Derek – are seduced by neon charms and the possibility of escape.

But beneath it all, these newcomers are harbouring a darker desire: revenge.

And as tensions reach fever pitch between the stoic locals and the dazzling intruders, a violence that’s been simmering for centuries is about to be unleashed…

Praise for Freakslaw:

‘A wild, fun house of horrors – whip smart, the sharpest writingfunny, visceral and filled with vengeance. I loved it!’ Rachelle Atalla, author of The Pharmacist

‘Delightful, delirious and transgressive… a queer punk masterpiece and we should all be so lucky to have our lives turned upside down by a visit to the Freakslaw.’ Leon Craig, author of Parallel Hells

Wild, raunchy, brutal – a madcap funhouse with heart.’ Liska Jacobs, author of The Pink Hotel

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  • Jim Mcleod

    Jim "The Don" Mcleod has been reading horror for over 35 years, and reviewing horror for over 16 years. When he is not spending his time promoting the horror genre, he is either annoying his family or mucking about with his two dogs Casper and Molly.

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