[673]: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

18350798 Menagerie by Rachel Vincent
Series: Menagerie, #1
MIRA | September 29th, 2015
Source: Bought
Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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.

Freaks of A Different Breed

I was, for the most part, obstinately set against reading this book when it first came out. Circus freaks never did hold any appeal. But if anyone has told me these freaks aren’t your run-of-the-mill freaks, then things would’ve turned out differently. I’ve been trying to come up with the proper word to describe the kind of circus Rachel Vincent came up with here but I’m failing miserably. There’s no bearded lady or a two-headed, conjoined twins. What you’ve got is every single monster that ever walked the pages of an Urban Fantasy novel. Don’t let Rachel Vincent hear that, though because she’d vehemently deny it. Let’s do a quick run down: minotaur, empaths, sirens, fae, werewolves, trolls, shape-shifters, and a being whose killing abilities are powered by revenge. I’m sure there’s more I’ve missed but you get the picture.

Delilah Marlow did not expect to find herself inside a cage after she witnessed a werewolf pup being tortured for the crowd’s benefit. Her rage was so complete that all she could think about was inflicting the same pain to the pup’s torturer. To everyone’s shock, her appearance quickly changed into a monstrous being with claws; black veins, and hair with a life of its own. When she woke up from her trance, the handler was reduced to a bloody, mindless mess. Unable to explain what she was (other than she’s not human) to the police, she was sold to the Menagerie.

Supernatural Beings Are Not Welcomed Here

In this world inhabited by humans and supernatural beings alike, the former are superior of the two. They suppressed the Cryptids’ freedom and treated them like the subspecies that they think they are. Reading about their oppression was difficult to take at times. Kids were separated from their parents; they were hunted, drugged on a daily basis, then caged like animals. They went through unthinkable abuse and all because of an incident that happened in the 80s. It’s called The Reaping. When human children were swapped with cryptids. Ever since then, they’ve been stripped of any rights.

So you can just imagine Delilah’s life after they determined that she’s not human after all. In Menagerie, she’ll have a first-hand account to the extent of maltreatment her kind goes through in the hands of the handlers: malnutrition, sexual and physical abuse in the general sense.  But the mental and emotional toll on the cryptids scar deeper above all the other abuse. Imagine a father feeling helpless for his teen daughter. She’s made to dress skimpily day in and day out. And if she doesn’t perform, she’s tortured with a cattle prod. He sees it happen every day but he can’t help her because, he, himself is caged. He hears every whimper and sees every burn marks on her body. But there’s very little he could do but to encourage her not to give up hope – and this from a distance. Theirs is just one example of the struggle I went through while reading this book.


But all hope is not lost. You can say that the appearance of Delilah was determined by fate. She is the one that will help this caravan of freaks to gain their freedom – at least, you would hope. But of course,  freedom has a price. And Delilah must first gain their trust. With Gallagher’s help, she hopes to offer them a chance at a life free from oppression.

Menagerie was so different from anything I’ve ever read before. It is as lovely as it is grotesque; tender as it is painful. This book tested my angst threshold and at times, I pushed myself to the limit. But oh, it’s a beautiful discovery and I loved every minute of it – even the painful ones. Delilah is a character who fought tooth and nails not to lose herself despite the cost. For the most part, I admired her. But man, there were times when I wanted her to submit just so she can save herself from the torture.

  • Yay! I’m so happy you liked this one! Vincent is one of my favourite authors and I loved how she delivered Menagerie. I am so excited for more, I tell you!

  • This book sounds so bizarre and dark, and I think I need it in my life right this moment because I’ve just really been wanting to read dark and creepy books lately. I wish I would have read this BEFORE my library visit today!

  • karina

    But she couldn’t submit due to her nature! That book mesmerized me. Great review, J.!

  • I’m so glad you tried this book. It was a favorite read of mine last year. I completely agree with your comment about “It is as lovely as it is grotesque; tender as it is painful.”. That pretty much sums up this book in a sentence. I saw that several people DNF because it was so dark, but I loved it. I’m excited for the next book and sad that it won’t come out until next year. At least you don’t have to wait as long as I did. I’m sure I will relisten to this one before the next one comes out.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

  • I can’t stand to read anything with bullies, so torture and horrible mind stuff would not be one for me. The premise does sound very promising, I just don’t think I could stand to read about it. I am such a wuss. I am glad though that it was such a good read for you. I haven’t read this author yet but would like to someday.

  • Babbling Books

    Woah this sounds terrifying and quite awesome! I think I might pick this one up in October if I have time!

  • I’m so happy your tried Menagerie and ended up surprised and really liking it!! I felt the same ->
    “It is as lovely as it is grotesque; tender as it is painful.”

  • Eeek, torture is a hard one to read about. Circus freaks always interested me though. I will have to try this one.

  • Now this sounds so unique. The idea of the circus freaks being entirely different than you would be able to think of them being. It seems like the supernatural side of things is tied into the heavy themes and all in all it makes a pretty intriguing and unique story.

  • Eee, gorgeous review Joy. <3 Sigh. I'm so glad you loved this book 🙂 I'm pretty sure I gave it five stars, ahh. I just loved it so much. And gosh, how I am dying for book two. Sigh. It shall be awesome. And awful. I so agree with you. This book was heartbreaking. Yet so amazing 🙂

  • Gosh, this book sounds like it’s a really heavy one with the torture that Delilah must endure and it just sounds so terrible. The monsters in here, gosh it just sounds way too much for me. Lovely review Joy!

  • Ohhhh, well now I’m going to have to give this another read. Damn you Joy and your beautiful words. I had no idea it was that beautifully horrific, but I love myself some weirdness. Rachel Vincent has been a bit hit or miss for me, but I’m excited to give this one another try. If I don’t like it, I know where you are 😀 Wonderful review Joy and thrilled that you enjoyed it so much <3

  • Oh wow this sounds really really good, but also painful. I think I would have a ton of trouble trying to get through this, since I bet it’s a hard book to read. Then again I am attracted to the urban fantasy part, though this is seriously giving me some Night Circus vibes!

    Awesome review Joy! I’m going to have to keep this one in mind, though I don’t know when I’ll be in the mood to read it.

  • I saw this one last year and was so loving that cover! Then a few friends of mine read the book and said they recommended it so I added it to my TBR, then forgot all about it *pouts* Thanks for putting it back on my radar.
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

  • Jasprit

    I didn’t have the best reading experience when I read my first Rachel Vincent book, but the way you’ve described this one, really makes me want to give it a go. I like the sound of how fierce Delilah is too, I definitely think though I will need someone to hold my hand whilst I read this one! Great review as always Joy! 🙂

  • ChristinaBookAddict

    I have never read Rachel Vincent before, but this one has definitely got me interested. Thanks for the great review!

  • I think roro below had it right — brutal is a good way to describe it! Really well done, riveting review!

  • It sounds brutal. I’m quite interested now. thanks for the review

  • I honestly didn’t hold a whole lot of interest for this book. Yeah, it sounded interesting and everything, but I have much of a drive to read it. But now I’m pumped!

  • I just admire books that really push your limits!!! I do want to read this one. Glad you enjoyed it so much. 🙂 Great review.

  • Wasn’t this a great book?! I didn’t expect it to be what it was either. I am so glad that you enjoyed it. I have to agree with everything you said. Now where is the next book? Great review!

  • I loved this one and can’t wait for Spectacle. I loved how Vincent really built up all the secondary characters and made you feel for them so hard. I kinda ship Delilah and Gallagher, haha.

  • I took this to another level and related it to how people in our society can be so mean and judgmental to those who don’t meet the status quo. LOL I obviously did a lot of overthinking!

    I’m a fan of this one too, it’s so heartbreaking! Can’t wait for the sequel

  • shootingstarsmag

    I really do want to read this one! I’m so glad you gave it a shot and found it to be more than you were expecting. I’m even more excited now.


  • Man, I was curious about this book before but I want to read this book now. It’s not normally my thing but I’m definitely convinced that I should give it a go because I need to experience this story for myself.

    Thanks for the review, Joy!

  • At first I thought you were going to hate it, but I’m so glad you did like the book. I so hated that the werewolf father had to go through that as well. I’m with you on this one I really liked it and it pushed my limits as well. Brilly review!

  • Looks like I need to be reading this! I love American Horror Story, so giving me some paranormal creatures in a menagerie is perfect. Great review & I’m sold!

  • Angst threshold? I am afraid mine is not big

  • This sounds so good, but why does it have to end in a cliffhanger?! I will never remember it by the time the next book is released. And I so want to read it!! Great review!

  • kindlemom1

    I seriously need to pick this up. Lovely post Joy!

  • This is new to me. And I’m intrigued. Lovely as it is grotesque? Wow. Gimme gimme. Delilahs sounds like a wonderful character and I like the premise of this story. I’m usually not the first in line to read a circus freaks books, but your awesome review has me really curious.

  • Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    Oh I need to read this immediately Joy! It sounds brutal, as Rachel Vincent’s books often are, but so, so amazing. I’m rooting for Delilah already, though I have little doubt I’ll want her to submit a time or two just to make it all stop as well. So looking forward to this!

  • Everyone enjoyed this one and I confess that I’m curious since its release. I’m glad you had a good time as well, I really will have to try!