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.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
♦ READ THIS BOOK. That is all. Oh, you came for a review…well I guess I can tell you about this book. But really, you need to go read it. So the first thing to note is this is a 5 star review. I have only had one other 5 and that was one of my old comfort reads. I am stingy with my 5’s, I feel that since you can not get higher than the 5 handing it out all willy-nilly will dilute the impact. So this was unquestionably a 5. I have been waiting for Menagerie since I first read about it on Rachel Vincent’s blog in August of 2013. Vincent is one of my auto buy authors and I have been tracking her new releases for 2015 pretty closely. Her early summer release The Stars Never Rise was good and I gave it 4.25 stars, but Menagerie is the one I have been waiting for with bated breath. I was tracking my Amazon package all day and every time I heard a noise, I was checking to see if it had been left at my door. Finally at quarter to 7 it arrived. And of course I couldn’t start it till after everyone was settled for bed. I was literally nodding off on the couch and refused to put it down. I finished it Wednesday night, and it was magical.
So the story in a nutshell – Monsters are real (called cryptids) and they are jailed, experimented on or sold to collectors. Delilah is a young woman who always assumed she was human, until she wasn’t. Sold to a collector who runs a carnival, she becomes a side show exhibit. She is not pleased by this but has no rights under the law. And then comes pure amazingness. I really cannot fully describe this book fairly. It was so nuanced, each line spoken had far reaching consequences later on. Each scene was vibrant and the characters were super realized. The world building was extremely well done; the story never dragged while the world was being described. I don’t know the last time I read a fiction book this real but yet so not in the best way. So please, do yourself a favor and read this book.
◊ Favorite line from final chapter Delilah – “Welcome to the menagerie, where beauty and grace shine from every cage and peek from every shadow. You’ve never seen anything like the exotic wonders within, so keep your eyes open, ladies and gentlemen, because in our world of spectacle and illusion, what you see isn’t always what you get.”
¤ Biggest cliché – Nope none. Just pure delight.
Δ It there a book you have waited for, for more than two years?