Monday 5 October 2015


Title: Menagerie
Series: Menagerie
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: YA, Mythology, Urban Fantasy, Dystopia
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: 29th September 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
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 existe


As I loved Rachel Vincent's Shifter Series so much I always take a look a closer look at any book by her. I have also always been fascinated with circus and the history and origins of circus's too, so that was another thing that appealed to me about this book. So with the high expectations I have of anything written by this author as well as the being interested in the Circus I was really looking forward to reading this one.

I downloaded an ecopy of this book from Netgalley & Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
The cover features some strings of lights and the word Menagerie in an elaborate font that makes you think of an olde worlde circus/performers and of the old signs for vaudeville shows (that I have seen on TV or in movies).
Would the cover make me pick this one up from a book store shelf? Yes, the cover with the old vaudeville style font would without a doubt attract my eye to it. Once I then saw the author name and read the blurb I'd be taking it right to the till to purchase.
At the beginning of this book there's a brief scene with a new mother listening to her baby screaming and crying. The mother is Charity Marlow, and she asks God to take her angry child and give her a happier, quieter child. Suddenly the baby goes silent. Charity immediately regrets her plea, rushes up stairs and find the baby sleeping peacefully. This scene did initially seem a little out there on it's own and irrelevant but the scene is revealed to be an important one much later in the book.
Then we skip to a school outing to the fair and follow ten year old Delilah Marlow as they stare in wonder at the costumes the circus performers are wearing. The children are taken into the petting zoo area and it's there the accompanying teacher likens one of the children, Matt Fuqua to a werewolf pup as he has spiky hair. It's an experience seeing the circus etc through the eyes of a ten year old. Of course there's much talk between them about the Menagerie part of the circus but they are not allowed to view that. If they want to see the Menagerie, their parents can take them to view it after purchasing the relevant tickets.  Of course this is how the Circus makes its money giving free tickets to schools, showing the children a little taster in the hope that the children will nag their parents to buy tickets for the whole show. Ten year old Matt Fuqua explains that they are not allowed to see the Menagerie as it is full of freaks and weird monsters. He then goes on saying what his dad has told him about "The Reaping".
The Reaping is referred to a lot in the book, by the characters themselves and within the newspaper articles and snippets including in the book too. The Reaping is something to be feared, babies born at a certain time where stolen away and "surrogates" were left in their place, many died in the reaping. . . but I'll let you discover more about that as you read the book for yourself. 
We then revisit the Circus with Delilah Marlow and her boyfriend and an another couple. Delilah's boyfriend Brandon has bought foru tickets for Metzgers Circus and Menagerie. The four lifelong friends wander around looking at the exotically dressed performers reminiscing about what they had seen back when they were ten years old and how much was the same, what had changed as well as how they themselves had changed too. Delilah isn't really enjoying walking around the Menagerie but it's her birthday present from Brandon and the others want to see everything, so she trudges along.  Delilah hates to see the cryptids (as anything "different" and in the menagerie are called) in the cages, as she has trained as a veterinarian specialising in cryptids. The small group see Clario the wolf, then in the next cage the name say's "Genni". Delilah witnesses one of the cryptid handlers being extremely cruel he is using a cattle prod to violently encourage a young girl named Genni to shift for the audience. Delilah loses her temper and approaches the handler, she feels strange, suddenly empowered and knows she has to do something to put an end to this wrong doing. Delilah puts her hands on the mans temples and squeezes. She removes her hands and the handler actually turns the cattle prod on himself.
Delilah is arrested, those around her describe what she did, how her hair floated around her head, her skin went deathly pale and that the handler had actually turned his own cattle prod onto himself! Delilah is being treat like a cryptid, though no one can say what she is. Her friends and boyfriend turn their backs on her, as she sits in a police cell awaiting blood test results. Delilah soon realises she has no rights under the law at all. All her possession and money is taken from her. The only things she has are the clothes she was wearing to the circus. Though the Deputy Sheriff shows her as much respect and kindness as he can, it is the Sheriff that wants rid of her as soon as he can, and if he can make some money all the better. The Sheriff sells Delilah to Metzgers Menagerie, he puts an official cheque through the government books and pockets a large check for his personal bank too. The only person on Delilah's side is her mother Charity Marlow
Delilah is treated like a non human, like a cryptid, a possession rather than a person. As her new handler, Gallagher, tells her, the sooner she gets used to this fact the better things will be. Gallagher seems to be two people rolled into one. On one side he is kind, making sure she has eaten, finding her clothes, promising to help her when the time is right. On the other side he is the brusque handler who has a job to do. Who is the real Gallagher? Can Delilah trust him?
I could go on and on about this book, I really haven't covered half of the book in this review so far! Delilah has to come to some level of acceptance of her fate, then she learns she may have a friend that can help her and the other cryptids have a different life. Delilah learns about the other cryptids she is now in the same situation as such as Claudio the werewolf and his daughter Genni, there's also a minotaur called Eryx, siren's, succubi, werecats, gnomes centaurs and more. The book goes on with Delilah befriending even the most cynical cryptid but will they take the risk and become part of her plan for a kind of freedom, yet still in a form of captivity. This all probably sounds cryptic and yes the plot is quite complex but well worth reading. During the first 20% of the book I totally admit to struggling a little and I even briefly thought that I would maybe not finish it! Then just after 20% the plot began revealing more and became quite addictive. The other part of the book I was not so keen on was the news reports about the reaping, maybe it is because I was reading an arc and the whole format and spacing of the actual book will be better but some of the news reports seemed to be tagged onto ends or beginnings of chapters where I felt they should have been separated out away from the main story, perhaps done in a different font or formatted differently. It didn't spoil the book how the article were presented I just found it an irritation. I loved reading about the individual characters of the cryptids and their relationships with one another and the handlers too. It's revealed that which handlers are the most cruel and which appear to be cruel on the surface yet much kinder when there is no one to see how they handle the cryptids. It is even more interesting in the latter part of the book to learn some of the reasons that the handlers work at Metzgers.
So did I enjoy the book? I was a little disappointed to begin with but as I continued reading I ended up adoring it. Would I recommend the book? Yes! I'd say if you enjoy Rachel Vincent's writing you'll love this. I'd also recommend it to anyone who loves a mystery or dystopia and mythology.  Would I want to read anymore of this series? Yes please! I'll be watching out for the next book in the series. Would I want to read other titles by Rachel Vincent? Yes, I already have! I enjoy Rachel Vincent's writing as her plots are so well thought out, and detailed. She gives her character a history and reasons for their behaviour or insecurities. I have begun reading her Wildcat's Series and I'm thinking of taking a look at her The Stars Never Rise Series sometime soon.

Oooo what an ending! I want to know more. . . What will happen to Metzgers Menagerie and it's cryptids. I loved how this book drew you in and showed both perspectives: why people were frightened of the cryptids and also how badly treated the cryptids are.....

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