Author: Rachel Vincent
Publication Date: 29th August 2015
Narrator: Gabra Zackman
Time: 10hrs 57mins
Book Source: own audio
Synopsis: 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.
I love Rachel Vincent, met her at ARRC in 2013 and I did the #fangirl thing. I love her writing so of course I wanted to read her latest but I was worried about clowns. You know ... travelling carnival, macabre circus, will there be clowns?? Clowns scare the crap out of me, they are creepy and most probably evil. I'm also one of those people who find circuses morally repugnant. However, my love for Rachel Vincent's writing and my big-girl-pants beat out clown fear. So fear not fellow clown phobics ... no clowns in Menagerie!
And OMG it's freakin awesome.
I seem to have hit the audiobook jackpot this year. Gabra Zackman nails the narration, pacing, distinct voices and personalities for an array of characters. I hope Gabra narrates future installments.
After the Reaping, cryptids and human/cryptid hybrids (oracles, weres, ogres, minotaurs, mermaids, selkies, succubi, fae) are hunted, caged, enslaved, tortured, exploited, starved and stripped of every basic human right.
Delilah Marlow reluctantly visits Metzger's Menagerie on her 25th birthday. Her horror at the treatment of Cryptids and specifically the torture of a werewolf girl, unleashes something in her and hours later Delilah finds herself chained on the other side of the bars at the mercy of keepers hell-bent on stripping every shred of humanity from her.
Menagerie is dark and brutal and superbly imagined, the complex world building blew my mind. But it also ripped at my heart. It might be fantasy but the parallels of abuse and injustice, the exploited, ostracised and oppressed in our own world are obvious.
Menagerie is tight, and raw and tense and beautiful despite the horror. It's everything I've come to expect from Rachel Vincent's writing ... and more. I loved the multiple POV's. I loved Delilah and handler Gallagher. I loved many of the fierce, fragile and damaged cryptids, werewolf Claudio and daughter Genni, minotaur Eryx .
Be warned, the torture, abuse and violence is disturbing and difficult to read at times.
But when the violence turns and some less-than-human humans get what they deserve, there's me cheering ... YEAH bring it on!! #karmasabitch hmm guess I sound a little disturbing.
The ending is great. Rachel Vincent could have been totally evil here. I know this probably makes little sense but it's an ending that left me satisfied and yet frothing at the mouth for more. Write faster Rachel Vincent.
I could keep going with superlatives ... or you could just take my word for it and read it. Menagerie is a favourite read this year. It might even be THE book of the year!