Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

(Menagerie #1)
by Rachel Vincent
Publisher: MIRA
Publication date: Sept. 29, 2015
Genre: Fantasy

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.



When Delilah goes to the carnival to see the menagerie, the last thing she expects is to become one if the exhibits, but that’s exactly what happens. The captivity and treatment of cryptids has always left a sour taste in her mouth, but there’s really nothing she can do. She once had dreams of becoming a cryptid doctor but realized that her patients would be prisoners rather than being part of the general public, and that wasn’t something she could stomach. So, when her boyfriend drags her to the menagerie for her birthday, she’s not really excited to see all the cryptids sitting in cages. She’s even less thrilled when one of the handlers decides to take it upon himself to a cattle prod one of the cryptids to “perform” for their viewers. Upon seeing the abuse, Delilah gets so worked up that she manages to transform into something that is unidentifiable, but most definitely cryptid. Since cryptids have no rights and are considered animals, she finds herself sold by the state to the same menagerie she’d visited as their newest and most rare exhibit yet. Born and raised as a human, Delilah is thrown into an unknown world where she’s not only treated as, but viewed as, an animal.

“But if monsters could look like humans, and humans could look like monsters, how could anyone ever really be sure that the right people stood on the outside of all those cages?”

While romance is usually my jam, there was something about Menagerie that kept pulling me back in. All I can say is, I’m glad I took a chance on this one because I LOVED IT! It was dark, twisted, and left me speechless. Not only because of the way Delilah’s entire world was yanked away from her, or the way she was treated, but also because of how all the others were treated. We actually get a handful of chapters from some of the other characters in the story and reading about their state of life was heartbreaking. The outside world may view them as nothing more than dumb animals, but they are intelligent and they’ve been watching, listening, and understand everything that goes on around them. They know that the menagerie is making them mate just so that they can put their babies in the petting zoo area for a few years just to be sold off when they are no longer useful. They know that nothing comes free at the menagerie and asking for something as simple as a stitch of cloth could cost them something despicable. Some of them also know what life was like outside of being chained, starved, sedated, and forced to perform for entertainment. So while this may start off as Delilah’s story, it soon turns into all of their story of survival locked in a traveling cage.

While the majority of Menagerie is of Delilah being chained and caged, a lot goes on. You see that appearances are deceiving and there are things going on beneath the surface. The story was like an onion, as you read, you pulled back more and more layers of the story. The author doesn’t just give you everything on a silver platter, she feeds it to you slowly, allowing you to savor every morsel of information. She gives you hints as to some of the things coming up, but if you’re like me and not overly familiar with all folklore, it will go over your head until the time is right and it’s revealed. Who was my favorite character? Easy, that would be Eryx the Minotaur. You see him around a lot because of his size and strength, they use him to pull all the rolling exhibits. Everyone views him as another dumb animal, but just like everyone else, he’s aware of everything that goes on and he knows how to play the humans.

Seriously, if you are a fan of the mythical creatures and folklore from around the world and are in the mood for something a little on the dark side, you have got to pick up Menagerie.



Favorite quote…

“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 scared them behind steel bars or glass walls and call themselves brave. But that only tells you who they are, not who you are.”





8 Thoughts on “Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

  1. Kudos to this author for daring to delve into the darkness to reel in her readers. This one sounds like it would definitely keep me reading and thinking for hours. Glad you enjoyed it, and your review is great. This is one that I plan to pick up. Hugs and Happy Friday! RO

  2. Oh if you liked this one, you’ll also love the next. I’m impatiently waiting on the 3rd. 🙂

  3. Oh yes I heard so many great things about this novel! I need to try it as well!

  4. I just know that I would be really fascinated by this book, and I love exotic creatures!! Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  5. That sounds really good but sounds like it would also be quite emotional to read.

  6. Oh I totally forgot to read this one! It happens lol

    I had heard really great things when it first came out and I wanted to read it.

    Thanks for putting it back on my radar.

    For What It’s Worth

  7. I completely agree with you! I adored this book! It was so so dark but such a good read. I loved Delilah and the twists kept me reading. Great review!

  8. I loved this book too, hope you grab the next one soon 😀 It’s just as good

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