Menagerie (Menagerie #1)
by Rachel Vincent
Published September 29th 2015 by MIRA
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.
Menagerie held such promise and I am very happy to report that it soared above and beyond anything I could have possible imagined. Rachel Vincent has painted such a realistic portrait of life would be life for all involved if such things as mythical creatures really did exist. Factor in the creepy circus like setting of the Menagerie and there was just no way this book could go wrong!
Delilah Marlow had a boyfriend, a job as a banker, and her own place the morning she awoke on her 30th birthday. As a present she was given tickets to the Metzger's Menagerie, a traveling show involving creatures of all shapes and sizes. There are Werewolves, Shapeshifter, Mermaids, Kelpies, Minotaurs, Chimera, even an Ifrit princess. After witnessing some pretty cruel treatment of the "exhibits",also known as Cryptids, something deep and primal is awoken inside her and she makes the cruel man suffer for his actions. She just doesn't know how or why she was able to control the man. Pretty soon Delilah finds herself penned up in the same Menagerie she has visited as a guest mere hours before. When these mythical creatures, these Cryptids have less rights then an animal so this is the last place a seemly normal girl would want to end up.
I loved figuring out Delilah's story but what really hooked me was the world that Vincent created. All throughout the book there are these clips and different excerpts which explained how things became this way in the world. Here is an example of one.
Congress officially repeals the Sanctuary Act, stripping cryptids of protection under the U.S. Constitution. Millions lose their jobs and homes in the immediate aftermath. —From a December 12, 1986 article in the Tulsa HeraldCryptids are basically human hybrids or anything that the government deems not of the natural world.There was an event that took place on August 24th 1986 deemed as the reaping that turned all humans against cryptids. Cryptid surrogates pulled off a con where the loss of life was a total of 300,000. All of these children were murdered by there parents. Bizarrely enough, one child in each family survived. They are all 6 years old and all born in March of 1980. Not a single parents remembers anything from that night. They will later realize that the number totalled in the millions. This event lays the ground work for the fear and segregation these creatures have had to become accustomed to. However they each have a story of their own and small glimpses of those are also portrayed. The result is a masterfully realized world where monsters are real and they are dangerous. There was such depth put into the cryptids that took it that extra bit to humanize them. They didn't feel like just mythical creatures, They felt like something that could really exist side by side in this very world.It is also terrifying that the cruel brutal treatment they endure also seems feasable.
This is a purely adult book and not for the faint of heart at that. I was uncomfortable reading about some of the ways these poor guys were treated but that is also a part of the beauty of Vincent's writing. This haunting yet provocative tale it enough to get anyone's wheels turning. It makes you think what it really means to be human and how quickly that can be taken away.