Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Review: Menagerie by Rachel VincentMenagerie by Rachel Vincent
Series: Menagerie #1
September 29, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US

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.

If you picked up Menagerie expecting to find a story similar to her Soul Screamers series, you won’t.  You will still find some of the bold moves Vincent takes as an author, you won’t, however, find much of the humor or light heartedness that was always present in that series.  Menagerie is NOT a Young Adult title, it is not a Romance. It’s Fantasy, full on Fantasy…with all the dark and dangerous things that lurk in that genre.

Delilah was a bank teller, a settled girlfriend, a happy friend when she was taken to the Menagerie for her twenty-fifth birthday.  Mitzger’s Menagerie, known for it’s wonderfully horrible monsters, is not the place Delilah wishes to spend her birthday. It certainly isn’t the place she would ever expect to live.  But witnessing the cruelty suffered by one young shifter cryptid turns mild mannered, bank teller Delilah into something…other. 

“Three hundred one thousand babies were born in hospitals in across the United States in March of 1980.  Not one of them made it home from the hospital.”

Now, she’s sold to the Menagerie. She’s nothing more than property, less than human, yet nobody knows for certain WHAT she is. All she knows is that she can’t survive a life of imprisonment, forced to perform at will or stand by while others are treated so brutally and carelessly.  Delilah’s will to make a better life for creatures cast aside by society and her sheer determination to not let captivity take her dignity from her starts a small fire inside of some at the traveling circus and when that fire takes hold, it could destroy them all.  Or, free them all.

Vincent creates such a dark and tortured world with this story.  It’s sad, very immoral and at times, extremely gruesome.  It’s a trip down an ethical rabbit hole, every move has consequences, even the ones made for the greater good. This is the part of the story I loved. 

I deal in morality, not in law.

I also loved that it’s written in a bit of puzzle, Vincent leads you down the path – leaving little bread crumb clues here and there, but you still have try and come up with the answers.  It’s all so very cryptic at times.

I think the only thing it was really missing for me was in the pacing of it.  I’d went through stages of being glued to the pages, to times being almost bored.  In the wide picture, I see the need for some of the added chapters that don’t bring much to the story as your reading, but I wish they would have been as impactful as other chapters were.   

Outside of that though, the world is great, the characters are mostly amazing (Rommily…that girl needs a book all of her own) and the story has just enough macarbe to give you the chills without actually terrifying you.


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About Rachel Vincent

A resident of Oklahoma, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.

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