Menagerie

Menagerie

Book - 2015
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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.
Publisher: Don Mills, Ont. : MIRA, c2015.
ISBN: 9780778316053
077831605X
Characteristics: 429 p. ; 25 cm.

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veetron
Feb 11, 2017

Ah, the power of a page-turner. I hesitate to classify Rachel Vincent's "Menagerie" as one particular genre. My library has it filed under Fantasy, and while this isn't exactly wrong, it unjustly narrows the book into a single category, when it is so much more.

"Menagerie" is more like an urban fantasy disguised as a thriller. Vincent has created an alternate reality of sorts, where fantastical creatures (everything from your pheonix to your human hybrid-esque mermaids, centuars, etc.) live among us. Well, that's not quite accurate. They don't live among us. They have no rights at all. They are caged and abused, either for spectacle or research.

So we have Delilah, who is a smart young woman (too smart for her small hometown in Oklahoma) and is already opposed to the treatment of "cryptids." While on a birthday trip to a traveling circus, Delilah is revealed to be more than what she seems - perhaps a cryptid herself. She quickly realizes just what this means as she is stripped of her every right and sold into the menagerie. Of course, now being on the other side of the bars means she must befriend her fellow cryptids while gaining a more thorough understanding of their lives. She also has to decide whether or not to trust the mysterious staff member Gallagher, who has his own story.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this book. I feel like it's the type of book that when described out loud seems kind of outlandish and cliched...but it's a page-turner. I read it in one day. Part of the draw is that Vincent has created a world that feels absolutely real, and there is a real battle of ethics here. I liked Delilah, and I was desperate to know what happened next. Other reviewers have noted that the ending felt rushed, which I agree with, but it was such a thrilling read that it almost doesn't matter. I'm looking forward to the next one.

ChristchurchLib Nov 23, 2015

Dark Fantasy. Delilah Marlow never had any reason to suspect she wasn't human until a visit to Metzger's Menagerie incited an unexpected transformation, revealing Delilah to be a cryptid. As a nonhuman, Delilah no longer has civil rights or legal protections of any kind. Worse, her family and friends abandon her, leaving her no choice but to become a sideshow attraction and thus a prisoner of the Menagerie. With its vivid, disturbing depictions of abuse and exploitation of vulnerable characters, this dark fantasy may not be to everyone's taste. However, fans of Anne Bishop's Courtyards of the Others series -- which also presents an alternate world in which supernatural beings must fight for their rights or die trying -- may enjoy this moody series opener. Fantasy newsletter November 2015

g
goddessbeth
Oct 27, 2015

My love for The Menagerie runs deep. So deep that when I realized (after reading) it's the first in a series, I was thrilled. I need more!

It's urban fantasy, set in contemporary America but with the open existence of cryptids- mythological creatures of all kinds. As the story starts they are devoid of any civil rights, viewed as dangerous sub-humans that can't be trusted. The world building is done gradually, subtly, in ways that don't detract at all from the marvelous pacing of the main story. And by the end, there were still questions left unanswered, in the primary story as well as the world building backstory.

This book is very driven by the plight of the main character, who uses her anger at injustice as fuel, beyond the point of reason. That sounds very summer-blockbuster-movie-character-shallow, but Rachel Vincent makes it work in a compelling way. I never felt connected to Delilah, but I definitely was rooting for her. She's a wonderful example of a truly strong female character, and a great role model. And the entire Gallagher story made me cheer.

I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys mythology, even if you're not typically an urban fantasy fan. Also to anyone who wants a good female main character, anyone who feels strongly about justice and morality, and those who like a story that ends on hope.

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KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“A wolf will growl to warn you that it's angry and a bull will paw the ground before charging. Rattlesnakes rattle, cats moan and hiss, and hyenas grunt and cackle. But a man will smile right in your face as he drives a knife into your heart.”

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KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“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?”

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