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.
©2015 Rachel Vincent (P)2015 Recorded Books
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"Dark story but good"
I'd recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary fantasy type of stories.
The relationship between Delilah and Gallagher was hard to understand at first. I wasn't sure I really liked him, but as the story progressed he grew on me. He and Delilah each had their roles to play under the circumstances (don't want to spoil anything). Nothing happened in the book that could be considered romantic and there was an unusual power balance with their relationship that evolved quite a bit by the end of the novel, but I would like to see something deeper develop in future books.
The end was my favorite part and I will definitely be looking forward to the next novel in the series. Most of the criptics really grew on me and I can't wait to learn more about them.
I should warn that this book starts really slow and there isn't a lot of action in it. Expect a whole lot of world-building to set events up. It is also very dark with torture, abuse, and severe neglect featuring throughout the story. For some people, this will be difficult to get through. I almost gave up on it, but I was intrigued enough with the characters and story to push through. The ending and what may happen next made it all worth it. This is the kind of story that stays with you and makes you think about what humanity really is. What really defines an animal or monster?
Also, the narrator was fantastic. She did a great job of giving the wide cast of characters unique and individual voices. Her pacing was also excellent. I could definitely listen to more of her work.
"MY WORD IS MY HONOR"
THIS IS THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, NOT THE POUND
This is an entertaining, deep, intellectual, moral read. I am so glad I roamed away from what I normally read to catch this. The book starts with a pretty cool twist and surprise for the main character, which leads to a mystery. Just when I thought, okay enough with the Satyr's, Centaurs, trolls, elves, mermaids, werewolves, fairies, giants, selkies, succubae, Minotaur, etc..., I am shocked with something new. Many of you may be thinking that you are not into all this weird stuff, but the main story is really a lot more than that. This is no more about mythology, folklore, or weird creatures, than Water For Elephants was about Elephants. This should appeal to anyone with a heart. Water of Elephants is a good example of the scope and appeal to the general public this book has.
ONLY A FOOL BELIEVES HIS EYES, ABOVE ALL OTHER SENSES
oh yea, there was a narrator, I think? Not at one time during the reading did I give one thought to the narrator, which tells me she was great.
"Genre bending story"
I knew precisely two things about this audiobook going in: Rachel Vincent wrote it, and she published a blog post stating that “MENAGERIE is not urban fantasy, nor is it romance, nor is it YA.” And, that was enough to hook me because 1. Vincent can write! And 2. I wanted to sample this genre bending story first-hand.
I’ve read a couple of reviews that have compared it to Anne Bishop’s THE OTHERS series, and that’s not too far off base, albeit not 100% accurate either. It’s dark, life after The Reaping made sure of that, and has an alternate universe vibe to it because of the strain between humans and Cryptids. Delilah Marlow’s tale is particularly poignant because she’s free one moment, only to be trapped behind bars the next with fewer rights than a household pet and her injustice unfolds live before our eyes.
A lot of the details were fuzzy, but I have to assume that that was intentional on Vincent’s part, not to mention the added bonus of cranking up the intrigue. The specifics will most likely come in time; however just knowing that there are thousands of varieties of Cryptids to explore, that the grisly specifics of the 1986 catastrophe are forthcoming, and that Team Vengeance is only in its preliminary stage has me riled up for the next installment.
Gabra Zackman was an excellent choice as far as narrators go. Her audiobook repertoire is quite broad which most likely came in handy when she concocted all of the voices for the large cast of characters. Her tone was appropriate when it came to the less than pleasant aspects of this novel, and her pacing echoed the author’s writing well which left little doubt that listeners got to experience the story as Rachel Vincent intended.
To-may-to, to-mah-to—call MENAGERIE whatever you like, as long as you read it. ~4.5 Stars
I love Rachel Vincent's books because even when she's writing urban fantasy it's different from what has become the standard vampire/werewolf stories that abound everywhere. Add the fact that she's excellent at telling these stories and I've been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it. This is not urban fantasy as defined anywhere, though it could be classified as contemporary fantasy. The synopsis does a good job of explaining the basic plot so I won't reiterate. But the story is more than just that of Delilah. Unlike the other books I've listened to by Ms Vincent, this book is written in both first person (Delilah's POV) and third person (when telling the stories of others). This mixed person style works well. Delilah's character is well developed in the first person narrative as is Gallagher's in the third person portions. Many of the other characters begin to be fleshed out in this way as well and I look forward to her use of more of this in future volumes. While the book stands alone, as her books usually do, there is more than enough open-endedness for plenty of storytelling to come.
Gabra Zackman is always wonderful as a narrator, though sometimes I find her inflections to be somewhat odd. For this book her performance was spot on and I can't imagine anyone else doing it.
Now I just need to be patient while waiting for the next book in the series. That and figure out what to listen to next that will hold up after listening to this one!
"Amazing Tale Without the Need for Romance"
I really enjoyed that they were able to tell this incredible fantastical realistic story of what these characters were going through, and while they hinted at a bit of relationship building, it didn't need a romantic story line to carry it or hold it up.
I really like the underlying (and totally subtle) political play on how people are treated when they're different than us.
100% recommend this book, and can't wait to read (or listen to) the sequel when it comes out.
"great original story"
I normally don't write reviews but I truly enjoyed this story. It does not really read like a fantasy but definitely has fantasy elements. I did not want the story to end.
This is SO not the type of book I would normally read. It's dark and the language is a little too strong in a few places. But I couldn't stop listening. The author was right, things often are not as they appear... I can't wait for the next one!
Far and beyond my favorite audiobook listen ever. Haunting and beautiful, this book kept me wanting to listen more - I am listening to it a second time and want to find something similar (at least until the next in this series comes out). Great story read by a great narrator.
"Great book, poor narrator"
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.
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.
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?
"Somewhat fresh, overly redundant"
I liked the premise and types of creatures. The book has some good highlights. Main character repeats the same sentiments way too many times in much the same language, and seems to lack other responses that would increase depth.
Shades of Hunger Games but less sophisticated.
"Good start to a new series"
The writing was good and made me care about the characters
How would the world be if mystical creatures existed? Would we discriminate against them and treat them as less than human? What is it that makes us human? Is it our appearance or is it how we treat people? These are the main themes explored in this new paranormal book.
Pleasant voices are essential to bring a book to life. Garbra's narration was enjoyable.
Not really but I like to space books out.
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