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.
Menagerie was scary and not in the way you might think. It’s not that the pages weren’t filled with monsters, there were plenty of those to go around. The horror came from the fact that the real monsters weren’t the mythical creatures kept captive.
To be honest, Menagerie wasn’t an easy book to read. It was intense, at times gruesome and even though it was total fiction, it held just enough truth to show what can happen if the wrong people are in charge when dealing with the unknown or misunderstood. This book held a powerful message about humanity. Sometimes those are the scariest to read, but the most important.
Beyond the message delivered, the imagery was amazing. Rachel Vincent brought this mythical creatures to life in vivid and unique ways. She made even the scariest among them beautiful in ways I never would have imagined. The alternate POVs added to the understanding of these creatures and a more intense hatred of the people who enslaved them. The fear that was created by a small group of creatures was warranted. What was wrong was labeling everyone that wasn’t ‘human’ as a threat. Can you tell that this book pushed some buttons with me? *sigh*
As intense as this book was, the only complaint that I have is that the ending was a little rushed. I was kind of surprised by the actions of some of the characters near the end and things were wrapped up just a little too ‘neatly.’ Even so, I have no doubt that since Menagerie is part of a trilogy, there is much more danger to come.
On a side note, I’m pretty sure that most readers were introduced to Rachel Vincent’s writing through her Soul Screamers series. This series promises to be just as amazing as that one, but it is definitely NOT another young adult series. It’s a dark fantasy.