From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…
When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.
But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.
Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.
I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, I was in no way compensated for this review.
Rachel Vincent brings us a new and enchanting series that is bound to be epic beyond all reason! Menagerie is a unique blend of paranormal and contemporary and shows us the darker side of menagerie settings where the participants are nothing more than prisoners.
The world here is also unique in that it's aware of the less than human residents hiding throughout. There was an event in the 80s that's touched on for history purposes and basically it results in all these paranormal beings being seen as monsters. Though they look human, none are treated as such. It's almost a blessing, for the paranormal, to be killed because there are far worse punishments than death. Other punishments involve being hunted down like animals in game parks, being used and abused in less than savory environments, or being sold to a menagerie.
Delilah has never enjoyed seeing the cryptids, aka the paranormal beings, being abused in the ways that society inflects on them. At one point, she wanted to be a cryptid-vet and help to take care of them, but when she learned that that position involved more torturing and studying then caring, she quickly dropped her studies and resigned herself to being a bank teller. Going to a menagerie for her birthday wasn't the best gift her boyfriend could provide, but since tickets are expensive, she felt obligated to attend with him and her friends.
It was at this menagerie when something unthinkable happened and Delilah is exposed as being a cryptid of some kind. We were aware of this prior to the event happening, though only in the vaguest sense of the word. And Delilah was completely unaware of her secret identity, and learning that she isn't quite human was a devastating blow. She loses all rights she had as a human, and her friends and boyfriend completely abandon her.
Before long, she becomes the newest attraction in the menagerie where she was in attendance and she sees a different side to the way things are. The handlers who once seemed to care for the cryptids are abusive and cruel. Delilah sees all this brute torture happening around her and is even abused herself, but there's simply nothing that can be done.
Delilah's handler, Gallagher, though, is different from the rest. He's a very mysterious sort of guy and I found him to be very intriguing. You almost expect to see a relationship form between him and Delilah a la Stockhom, but yet, it doesn't. I could see something happening farther down the line though. But for this book, there was zero romance involved. But there's definitely the potential for some to happen eventually. We'll just have to see how things go.
I've always been a huge fan of Rachel's books and Menagerie was definitely one her most finest! It's far different from her past series, but that's what I found so intriguing about it. The pacing isn't as fast as I would've hoped for, but the slower pace allowed the characters to develop and the we also get a better understanding of our surroundings and the how serious the situation is. So despite a slower paced read, I still found myself enjoying every minute of it!
One of the things that did make things a bit more complicated in it was the change of narrator. For the most part we get Delilah's first person point of view, but every now and then, we'd get to see the point of view from another cryptid or handler or occasionally Gallagher. While those were enjoyable, at times I felt the shift was so sudden. True, they were differentiated by chapter markers, but it did cause the occasional slip-up for me in where I stumbled to change tracks and see what this new character was seeing!
The ending to this one was all sorts of chaotic! I don't want to give away anything, but it's definitely one of those things where the heroine's plans seem to be moving smoothly and then they all fall apart again and again! So simply put, chaos! I definitely wonder what those final outcomes will result in. Because there several unexpected happenstances that were the proverbial wrench in the plan! Needless to say, I am hooked on this series!! I can't wait to see what Rachel will do next with this new cast of characters!
If you're looking for a new read filled incredible characters and a deliciously built world setting that really digs into the nit and gritty of the menagerie scene, then this is the read for you! Menagerie is a darkly, seductive read that will keep you captivated until the very end and left longing for the next installment!
Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars
Menagerie releases September 29, 2015