Freckles the Clown tells the brilliantly brutal tale of Jim and his ole pal Freckles. On the 20th anniversary of their friendship, Jim reminisces on how he met Freckles and the events that have transpired since. See, Freckles is not really Jim’s friend, at least not in the traditional sense. For the past 20 years, Freckles has been forcing Jim to participate in a series of deliciously depraved murders. But Jim has had enough. On this special day, Jim decides to fight back and end Freckles’ reign of terror once and for all.
This story is pretty messed up, in the best way. Fulkerson does not hold back in the depravity department. At every turn, he cranks up the shock factor in new and interesting ways. Despite how wild the ride gets, none of it seems to be shock for the sake of shock. If you’ve followed my reviews, you know that one thing that really turns me off is when authors add extra gore and violence just to shock the reader without it really fitting the flow of the plot. I’ve always believed that the gore should serve the plot, and Fulkerson’s gore certainly passes that test. No matter how messed up the story gets, (and it does get pretty damn messed up) it is all in the interest of forwarding the plot. It’s a fine line to walk, and Fulkerson walks it well.
The only real negative thing I have to say about this story is that the last half seems a bit disjointed. As the plot gets weirder and wilder, the writing gets a bit loose and frayed. The story branches and spirals and seems to ramble just a bit. According to Fulkerson’s acknowledgements, he wrote the first half of the story, but ended up putting the story on hold for about a year before figuring out the direction he wanted to take the plot. It seems to me that the original half of the novel was more polished and tightly edited. Overall, it was still an incredibly engrossing book that kept me fairly well glued to the page.
Easily the most enjoyable aspect of Freckles the Clown is just how unpredictable the plot is. Obviously I won’t go into too much detail, but there are some absolutely unexpected twists to be found. Oftentimes, I can get a general sense of where a story is going. Not here, no way. Fulkerson takes things in new, unexpected directions, keeping you constantly guessing. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Fulkerson turns the entire plot on its head. While this approach probably lent to that disjointed second half previously mentioned, it definitely served to keep things interesting and keep me entertained.
Not for the weak-stomached, Freckles the Clown is a veritable gore-fest of unpredictable insanity. The shock factor is pretty high up there, but this is no torture-porn blood bath. The truly engrossing aspect of this story is the way Fulkerson twists and turns the plot, leading you down rabbit holes and into places you would never have expected to go. While it was a bit loosely executed towards the end, the overall effect is quite enjoyable. If you are looking for a wild ride that’ll keep you tuned in to see what happens next, do yourself a favor and check out Freckles the Clown.