by Brett Riley

Freaks by Brett Riley

Hunted by monsters. Wanted for questioning. Late for class.

Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they unintentionally allow terrifying, other-worldly creatures to invade their small Arkansas town. Discovering that they are now endowed with strange superpowers, the four teens dub themselves “Freaks,” the very name their tormentors used to ridicule them. The Freaks must fight to save the lives of family and friends now in mortal peril and thwart a secret government task force that appears to be hunting them.

The world premiere of the cover of this book occurred on July 12, 2021 on the YA Central Books site.

Freaks is now available, online and in stores, wherever fine books are sold!

Author picture

Brett Riley is a professor of English at the College of Southern Nevada. He grew up in southeastern Arkansas and earned his Ph.D. in contemporary American fiction and film at Louisiana State University. His short fiction has appeared in numerous publications including Folio, The Wisconsin Review, and The Baltimore Review. Riley’s debut novel, Comanche, was released in September 2020, followed by Lord of Order in April 2021.  Freaks, a superhero thriller featuring dangerous aliens and badass high school kids was published in March 2022.  The second novel in the Freaks series, Travelers, was released in August 2022 and the third installment in the series, Rubicons, was published in August 2023.  Riley lives in Henderson, Nevada.

“Riley goes for the gusto…twists aplenty”Kirkus Reviews, (12/15/2021)

“A fun romp that fans of Stranger Things,superheroes, and Marvel and DC stories will enjoy…The story also explores finding one’s purpose and sticking up for one’s beliefs, even when faced with the worst of enemies.”—Aurora Dominguez, Booklist Magazine (03/17/22)

“In the supernatural, coming-of-age story, four friends must do the right thing or perish.”—Jenna Jaureguy, Foreword Magazine. (March/April)

“A great spin on the superhero story, told with genuine depth.”—Mark Waid, best-selling author of History of the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange, and Superman Birthright. (07/12/21)

“The different perspectives given in this book really helped me understand the plot and I think it overall enhanced the story so much more. I thought the end was a bit drawn out, but regardless I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation until the last minute. I also loved the complexity of the characters. At first I had some pretty stubborn views on each of the characters, but throughout the story those views developed and it was a lovely example of how people, much like most things in life, are never black and white, but there’s a lot of grey that we have yet to be exposed to!”–Stephanie Rovirosa, (12/04/2021)

“A fun and fresh twist on the superhero story! Fast-paced, strong characters, and twists and turns make this a must read!”—Jennifer Brody/Vera Strange, author of The 13th Continuum Trilogy, Spectre Deep 6, and the Disney Chills series. (07/10/21)

“Adult fans of superheroes and fantasy books don’t miss out, you are going to enjoy this book as well. I couldn’t put the book down and can’t wait for the next in the series.”—Peter Thornburn, UK educator, Goodreads (09/11/21)

“This book was in some ways very much what I was expecting after reading the blurb, it’s my kind of book for sure. But it also really surprised me with some things that happened, I’m not sure why but there were definitely some “Did that really just happen?” moments.”—Nom Garvey, NetGalley (09/08/21)

“With Freaks, Brett Riley has accomplished something very few YA authors have: freakishly good writing, freakishly relatable characters, freakishly awesome premise — all making for a freakishly great read.”—M. P. Kozlowsky, author of Frost and Rose Coffin (05/04/21)

Freaks is propulsive and brilliantly written, with compelling characters and plenty of action. Brett Riley knows how to keep the reader’s attention.”—Scott Bergstrom, author of The Cruelty and The Greed. (07/20/21)

Freaks begins at top speed and never lets up until the final page. Like some fascinating blend of Stranger Things and X-Men, Brett Riley’s novel explores what power means and how it is best wielded, making the book both timely and timeless. A fantastic read!”—Kevin Waltman, author of Nowhere Fast, Learning the Game, and Next (06/24/21)

“This book is dark and delicious in the best way. The author took this book in whatever direction he wanted, and I absolutely loved a lot of the details.”—Rachel LaBerge, NetGalley. (08/05/21)

“I enjoyed this story of outsiders, monsters, and friends.”—Dalton Steinert, Goodreads (08/02/21)

“A very fun twist on the superhero story, and I would definitely recommend it to people who love Stranger Things, Marvel and comic-book style narratives.”—Claudia Merklinger, Goodreads (07/31/21)

“What I enjoyed most about this book is that Brett Riley really did NOT hold back when it came to the murders in this small town. When I read books at 12ish, it felt like the ones geared specifically towards me were always fluffy or go-lucky.”—Kaitlyn Neal, Goodreads (07/26/21)


When three sets of hands grabbed him from behind while he stood at the urinal, Micah Sterne cried out, but not because he was surprised. Honestly, he didn’t know why it had taken so long; he’d been expecting something like this since school had started a month ago.

He struggled and fought for as long as he could, but as one against three, he barely lasted ten seconds. They dragged him into a stall. Two of them grabbed his ankles from behind and yanked. Micah stuck out his hands to break his fall, but he still landed on his face. Someone knotted a meaty fist in his shirt. His collar dug into his throat, the pressure making his temples and eyeballs feel like pus in a zit. He tugged the collar away just as they raised his legs and pushed his head into the bowl. Micah inhaled and squeezed his eyes shut. His face submerged,
then his ears, then most of his head.

Please, God, let this water be clean.

He held his breath until he nearly blacked out. When they pulled him up, he hacked and choked and inhaled through his mouth. His nose felt clogged, as if someone had filled his sinuses with wet gauze. The toilet water was pinkish. A drop of blood the size of a nickel fell in, darkened the water, dissipated.

“Looks like you got a nosebleed, pussy,” a voice said.

“Bite me,” Micah croaked. Two more drops fell into the toilet. He felt little pain yet, but it would come.

“You heard him, boys,” said another voice. “He wants some more.”

Micah knew the voices. They had been saying shit like that to him for years. In fourth grade, one of the kids now holding Micah’s legs had told the whole class that Micah’s mom cooked babies and cats in her witch’s cauldron, just because she was Wiccan. In sixth grade the same kid told everyone, his voice dripping with certainty, that Micah and Jamie Entmann were faggots, queer for each other and maybe any other guy. Last year, at an eighth-grade football game, Micah was walking underneath the bleachers toward the concession stand when one of
them punched him in the back of the head. He had fallen on his face and blacked out for a minute, and as the kid who did it disappeared into the shadows, Micah heard that same slur again, drifting through the cheers and mutterings of the crowd overhead. The same old story, told week after week, sometimes more than once a day, and it always ended the same way—with Micah alone in his room, choking back tears of rage and humiliation.

And now this. They raised his legs again. A hand twisted Micah’s shoulder-length straw-colored hair. His nose throbbed with each heartbeat.

One of them leaned in close. Despite his plugged nose, Micah winced at the bully’s foul breath, like bologna and onions and stupidity. “Now, you might feel like you should grab the rim of that crapper and push. I wouldn’t advise it. I’d hate to accidentally stomp on your fingers. You get me?”

Micah nodded. Speaking would just make things worse.

The toilet rushed toward him again. Just before the water covered his ears, a third voice said, “Look at it this way, geek boy. Maybe that cold water will feel good on your nose.”

Hardback: $18.99 US      ISBN:  9781945501531  — First Edition: March 2022
Paperback:  $14.00 US     ISBN: 9781945501524 — First Edition: March 2022
ePUB: $9.99 US              ISBN:  9781945501548
Audiobook: $28.00        ISBN:  9781945501555
Unabridged, (7  hours, 57 minutes, 50 seconds) Narrated by P. J. Morgan; Production by BeeAudio Ltd. & Imbrifex Books Audio

Related Books

Comanche: A Novel

by Brett Riley

LIKE THE CYLINDER IN A SIX SHOOTER, WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND. In a tiny Texas town, a team of investigators tries to solve a string of murders that appear to be linked to a Wild West gunslinger’s brutal death two hundred years ago.
"A clever, imaginative blend of literary fiction, historical fiction, horror, dark humor, and detective procedural."— Si Dunn, Lone Star Literary Life. (10/25/2020)
"Debut novelist Riley tells a quite deliciously twisted tale. The novel is a lot of fun, with a very entertaining story and a great cast of characters."— David Pitt, Booklist. (04/10/20)
"COWBOY GHOSTS AND A MURDER MYSTERY!!!!!! I love westerns so much. Possibly the only thing I love more than westerns is a good crime fiction story. And the only thing I love more than a good crime fiction story is a legit, scare-your-pants-off ghost story. This book has it all! With different chapters taking place in different years, the reader gets to experience The Kid’s post-mortem reign of terror in two different centuries. Four Stars!"—Shannon Bollig, (06/30/20)
"One of the best meldings of the traditional detective novels and the supernatural that I’ve read in recent history. I really enjoyed this book. It’s more ghost adventure than detective mystery, but if that’s what you’re in the mood for, you’ll enjoy Comanche. 4-Stars"— Kristopher McClanahan, Tabletops and Tentacles -- (06/05/20)
"Brett Riley's COMANCHE is the best western-horror-thriller-ghost story-PI novel ever written. COMANCHE is a rollicking ride. Fans of Joe Lansdale and James Lee Burke, Brett Riley is the author you didn't know you loved." —Tod Goldberg, author of Gangsterland and Gangster Nation. (02/28/20)

Rubicons: A Freaks Novel

by Brett Riley

Finding themselves. Fighting together. Growing apart. It’s junior year in Quapaw City, Arkansas. With it comes a new foe that even the Freaks cannot thwart--adulthood....
"I've been reading the Freaks Saga since the beginning and I've enjoyed each entry getting stronger and stronger. The characters themselves have grown and been done really well, and I've enjoyed the plot and going through this world. I can't wait to read more from Brett Riley as this series has made me a fan. "The next day, Kenneth and Ty went to Elvis Schott’s funeral. None of the other Freaks had come. No big surprise. Any of them would have looked and felt out of place after all those years when Marla had ignored or tormented them."--Kathryn McLeer, NetGalley FIVE STARS (09/16/2022)

Lord of Order

by Brett Riley

The Purge is here. New Orleans must die. Six conflicted conspirators gird for battle, fully aware that the looming apocalypse will demand horrific choices, test their faith, and require them to join forces with their sworn enemies.
“Darkly humorous and brutal, Lord of Order takes readers on a violent gun-slinging wade through a visceral, blood-soaked swamp of human frailty and redemption ... I’ll be searching out the author’s back catalogue whilst awaiting the sequel.”—Lee Doughty, GrimDark Magazine
“A convincingly bleak vision of the future … Those who like their dystopias especially gritty will want to take a look.”Publishers Weekly
“The past is future in this sweaty, swampy, gun-slinging first cousin to dystopian classics like The Handmaid’s Tale and Fahrenheit 451. Lord of Order crackles. Grab your gear, double down on the ammo, Brett Riley’s dystopian action thriller will have you reaching for a whisky and your six-shooter.”—Stephen Scott Whitaker, National Book Critics Circle.
“Brett Riley writes hardcore action, his literary point the hypocrisy and perfidy of extremist fundamentalisms that trample all freedom and humanity.”—Douglas Unger, author of Pulitzer finalist Leaving the Land