Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Title: Menagerie (Menagerie #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Adult
Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: September 27th 2016
Kindle Edition, 480 pages

Summary: 
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 big-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
*This book is characterized as adult and may not be suitable for younger readers.*

This is my second time reading Menagerie and I am still as shell shocked and shook as I was the first time around. Everything about this book was intricately planned and detailed and vivid. Part of me thinks I am crazy for liking this book as much as I do. But it's something so incredibly different and it shows how cruel humans can be to things that don't understand. Rachel Vincent has been a must read author for since her Soul Eaters series and I've enjoyed many of her novels since. Menagerie is unlike anything I have ever read by her before. This book isn't for the faint of heart. I won't lie when I questioned myself a couple of times if I wanted to continue on. But if you do make it through, there is something extremely satisfying how this book ends. 

Menagerie is set what is to be an alternate United States, where mythical creatures exist and had once lived side by side with humans. After the Reaping, which resulted in the death of millions of children the Mythical Creatures or Cryptids where stripped of all their rights. Soon they were captured or killed. Those lucky enough to be captured become entertainment for peoples pleasure. Metzger's Menagerie is one of the largest travelling menageries in the country and is in Delilah's hometown just in time for her birthday. Delilah visits the menagerie with her boyfriend and best friend, and witnesses first had the mistreatment and abused that the cryptids are dealt. But the dark parts of Delilah come to the surface and soon she is one of the "creatures" caged and traveling with the menagerie. 

“Most people have something horrible hidden inside. A beast. A secret. A sin. What makes you and the other exhibits different is that your inner monster can’t be explained by the laws of physics and biology as we know them. What people don’t understand, they fear. What they fear, they lock up, so they can come see whatever scares them behind steel bars or glass walls and call themselves brave. But that only tells you who they are, not who you are.”


I would have thought the second time around I wouldn't have been so shocked about the cruel attention and abuse the cryptids face. But I was. Part of me was concerned that I wanted to continue to read on after learning more and more about the treatment of the menagerie's inhabitants and Delilah. I think Menagerie is a good example of how humanity turns to cruelty when it doesn't understand something. 

I really enjoyed Delilah's character. She spent 25 years believing she was human. She had a boyfriend, a job and rights and suddenly everything is stripped away from her in the blink of an eye. Despite the inhumane treatment and the tactics used to try and break Delilah she held her head as high as she could through it all. She is one of the fiercest female characters I have read in a long time and I am excited to see where Vincent is going to take her character next. 

As I said this book isn't for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy urban fantasy that is going to make you angry and want to seek justice for a character, I highly suggest Menagerie. Both enjoyable and different this book had me in is grasp until the very last page. I am eager to continue on and see where these characters are going to go next. 



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