Series: Menagerie #1
Date Published: October 1st 2015
Audiobook Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
Audiobook Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Description: 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.
Well, Rachel Vincent has done it again. What an imaginative and complicated world we get to know in Menagerie. The premise is the Cryptids have no status in society and are sold off as livestock essentially. They are kept in a circus, or in a personal collection, and are feared by everyone due to the catastrophe in 1986.
Delilah lives her life as a regular human, until the one day she visits this traveling Menagerie, and her inner beast comes out when one of the exhibits is tortured by a handler. She had no idea she wasn’t normal, but is immediately stripped of all she owns, including her name, and is sold into the Menagerie as an exhibit. But she won’t lie down and accept her fate – no this woman is as fierce as she is honorable and will not stand for this injustice. And she talks back. Like this:
“Drea, why don’t you turn a circle and give us a good look?” the talker said, his chest all puffed out, as if he’d had something to do with making me perform.
“Fuck you,” I said, nice and clear, in spite of my fuller voice, so everyone could hear.
A couple of teens near the back of the crowd laughed, but the mothers scowled and covered their children’s ears.
“Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen,” the talker called with an amiable chuckle. “Most of our exhibits were born and raised in the carnival, and they hear a lot of rough language.”
“Most of our handlers are full of shit,” I added, drawing more laughter from the back of the crowd. “I learned to cuss the same place all of your kids did. In middle school.”
I loved Delilah in all her refusal to deal with captivity and her talking back to the carnival workers. Also, the creepy beastie she becomes when her inner monster is released sounds quite a sight to behold. I tried to find some art representing her, but Google didn’t come through. But Delilah is also very naive and thinks she is bigger than she is, or more capable of helping others than she really has the power to do, and so she mucks things up quite a bit. I mean, what great heroine doesn’t mess up from time to time right?
Then there’s Gallagher, her handler. He is mysterious and kind, and definitely hiding something. I love how the book keeps secrets from us but reveals them in interesting ways. I loved Gallagher by the end of the book, where I was suspicious of him at the beginning. He repeats this quote a lot through the book, and it isn’t until the reveal near the end where we find out why.
My word is my honor.
This is an excellent start to a series, and I’m curious to see where it will go next. It did wrap up nicely with a satisfying ending and leaves you with an interest in what is to come. No cliffys here, so you know that’s a win in my book. Also, all the critters are fascinating and I really enjoyed the descriptions of them and their personalities. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book.
Audio review: I really struggled with this narrator. She does what is one of my HUGE peeves – WHISPERS throughout the narration. I CAN’T HEAR YOU! I have to turn my speakers up to MAX and still I can barely hear the dialogue, and now I hear static. GAH. I had listened to her once before, and I really didn’t care for that particular book, until I realized it had to be the narrator because the author said that particular book was the most emotional in the series. GAH. I missed out due to a monotone whisperer. And I looked her up on Audible, and she narrates a crapton of books. Seriously what is with publishers picking horrible narrators? And why is it that others seem to like this narrator?