Menagerie (Rachel Vincent)

For the second week in a row, I must mention that I received a free copy of this book (through Edelwiess) in exchange for an honest review. This didn’t affect my opinion of the book.

“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?” (Rachel Vincent, Menagerie)

When Delilah Morrow visits Metzger’s Menagerie for her 25th birthday, she is a completely normal bank teller. After an incident at the Menagerie pushes Delilah to her breaking point, things go too far and within 24 hours she finds herself stripped of all rights, chained, considered property and in a cage, an attraction in the very Menagerie she was visiting. In a world where the “monsters” are real, her life is now worth less than nothing. But who are truly the monsters? Those inside of the cages, or the keepers and spectators at the Menagerie? Will Delilah’s spirit break, or will she break free?

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I couldn’t stop reading this book. The world within was so richly built and so easy to picture. Was it horrifying? Absolutely, but incredibly believable. Most of the book takes place within Metzger’s Menagerie. At first, it seems like a completely magical place, where you can see creatures like griffons, mermaids, werewolves, chimeras. But, it doesn’t take long to see the true horror of the place peaking through, the mistreatment and abuse of sentient creatures. Even knowing that this is fiction, its still completely heartbreaking.

This all takes place in a world where cryptids are real and considered the enemy. Families have been ripped apart by the tragedy of the Reaping, a horrible event that took place in the 80s. After that, cryptids became outlawed, they have no rights and their lives are forfeit.

While some reviews I have read said that there wasn’t enough character building to create real connection to the characters, I disagree. Claudio and Genni, in particular, are heart wrenching. Gallagher, Delilah’s handler, and Eryx, the minotaur, both keep you wondering. And while some found Delilah annoying, I love her strength and her smart ass spirit. This book is incredibly dark, but her refusal to give up, makes it seem as if there is always a light at the end of that tunnel.

I cannot wait for the next book in this series to come out. There are so many possibilities and such big hopes built up for me that even after one book I feel truly invested in the lives of these characters. I’ll eagerly await the next book.

This is only the first book in the series. It’s out in paperback in September, for those who don’t want to spring for the hardcover, the wait isn’t long. The next in the series, Spectacle is out next year.