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.
I am hopelessly in love with Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie. The writing grips the reader tight from the beginning, squeezing harshly in the horrifying scenes of inhumane treatment and torture, and doesn’t loosen up until the last page is turned. The dark, evocative emotion churning through this story is not for the faint of heart, as fitting with such serious themes. Vincent captures the wide spectrum of humanity with an unflinching narration, likely leaving readers shocked at how easy it is to imagine a world like Delilah’s where her society no longer considers her human. Yet, as bloody (but not too gory) and scary as the story may turn, themes of justice, kindness, and family prevail among them and offer glimpses of hope for humanity in the darkest times.
The relationship, which I would be reluctant to label romantic, between Delilah and Gallagher is powerful and intense. The lines of distrust and unease are meshed right alongside a kind of honorable friendship and mutual hunger for some sort of justice. There are several twists in their stories that made me not only gasp, but also nearly drop the book in surprise. The secondary characters are just as complex and remarkable, and the wide range of mythological creatures is highly impressive.
With the sometimes brutal violence and heavy themes, I would recommend this for older teens and up. Menagerie is a frightening, frantic, and richly sublime story that claws your heart while whispering promises in your ear, and I can’t recommend this masterpiece by Rachel Vincent enough.