Series: Menagerie #1
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: Adult 18+
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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.
My lord, what can I say about this book other than it wasn’t what I had in mind at all and it completely blew me away!
Yes, it blew me away because of the vivid, heart gripping, and stunning story. The world is, as I just mentioned, vividly painted. Haunting, twisted, and dark. It was a world I couldn’t get enough of. It pulled me right in, allowing me to really see this unusual world fill with fantastical creatures. It was a true Vincent book in every way, from her compelling storytelling, deeply characterized characters, and intricate plot.
“But if monsters could look like humans, and humans could look like monsters, how could anyone ever really be sure that the right people stood on the outside of all those cages?”
First, we meet Delilah, a young woman trying to live her life. She wants nothing more, on one special day, but to relax with her friends and her boyfriend. But a single trip to the traveling Menagerie changes all that. Delilah’s story is riveting. Deep and thoroughly amazing. However, it is also completely sad. But with Delilah’s tenacious personality, strong will, and stubborn attitude, you can’t help but feel for her and what she goes through throughout the entire story. I marveled at her will and her strength, and even though I was sadden by her situation I loved how she turned it around.
The book is also filled with a wonderful roundup of unique, scary, interesting, and odd characters (creatures, really… mostly). I also fall in love with the strong and silent Gallagher. And though, at first, I was unsure of his character, I just loved how he turned around and what was eventually revealed about him. His story was, like Delilah’s and everyone else’s, so deep and intricate. He proves he was more than who he was in the beginning. And though so many of the creatures’ backstories broke my heart, it was heartening to learn about them and who they are because they are so much more than just simple minded creatures.
Though the book isn’t focused on romance, which I loved, I do hope that there will be a budding romance between Gallagher and Delilah later on. What I loved the most is that the book focused on the characters, their situations, their stories, and their personalities. We get to see the inside of the Menagerie and the creatures that are within. We get to see that they are living beings with thoughts and feelings. Vincent did a great job at allowing me to connect with the creatures, to love them, to feel for them, and to hope for the best for them.
The book does take a while to build; however, it isn’t about action but the story of the all the characters. The mystery of what Delilah is and what she is meant to do, kept me glued to the pages. The storyline is fresh, and definitely something I haven’t read before. The development of the story and the characters flowed seamlessly as well as the building of the plot. It was exciting wanting to know what was going to happen next.
You are normal. You are human. You are ours. The memory of my mother's bedtime mantra played through my head as it always had in moments of fear and doubt since I was a small child. It had never in my life felt more relevant. Or more like a total lie.
Menagerie is a breathtaking, brutally raw, vividly dark, and heart-gripping story. The world Vincent has created is draped in Urban Fantasy finery, filled with rich characters, a heartbreaking but hopeful story-line, and a world so unique and so dark you can't put the book down because you just have to know what is going to happen next.
All I can say is this one is a must read.