(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: The Stars Never Rise
Published by Harlequin on October 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Suspense
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 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 wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to get when I cracked the cover of Menagerie by Rachel Vincent but I have to admit, I enjoyed this one. It has a unique story and some even more unique characters with a paranormal feel that kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen next.
Menagerie begins with Delilah Marlow visiting a famous traveling carnival with her best friend and her boyfriend. The difference between a normal carnival and this carnival is that they have a collection of attractions that are centered on cryptids. Cryptids are part human, part animal and to everyone who is purely human, they are animals and have no rights. I tell you all of this because while at the carnival, Delilah comes face to face with just how cruel humans are to the cryptids and it is this that changes her life forever. When Delilah can’t control her reaction to what happens at the carnival, she changes into a monster she never knew existed and is faced with a situation she doesn’t know how to change.
Delilah is an interesting character and I found that having grown up human and free, it gave her a level of defiance that the handlers were not expecting. Of course with that, there is a challenge to break her and get her to realize just where she fits in the chain of equality. I loved how she refused to consider herself, and other cryptids, as lower than human. Despite what they are, they deserve to have the same freedoms as anyone else. Unfortunately it is this defiance that gets her in the most trouble. As she is now caged and on display, Delilah has to figure out what she is and to do that, she works with her handler, Gallagher.
Gallagher is a bit of a mystery at first. He definitely has secrets and is with the Menagerie for other reasons than to just have a job. Although he does his best to protect the cryptids, he can’t always and this opens the door for Delilah and others to be mistreated. Once Gallagher’s story was revealed, I found myself even more interested in his story. The secondary characters are just as well developed and I began to see them as more than cryptids. Despite being caged and separated, something of a friendship develops between Delilah and others and it adds another layer to the story.
Overall I enjoyed how the story unfolded. While the beginning felt a bit slow, it was mostly due to the download of information. We needed to understand how the reaping impacted people’s perceptions (I know…I didn’t talk about this) and how Delilah would ultimately end up in the situation she is in. Once the story moves forward into trying to figure out what Delilah is and how she will escape, things start to pick up. Yes, this book is definitely dark. There is a lot of violence and other things that make me think not everyone will enjoy this story but I thought the way Vincent built the story around these things was done well.
There isn’t much more I can say about the actual plot without giving anything away. With that said, I’m definitely interested to see where Vincent takes the story in the next book and am glad I picked this one up. If you are looking for something with a different story and characters that will keep you guessing around what their motives are, consider checking this one out.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.