Series: Menagerie #1
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal
Published by Harlequin on September 29, 2015
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From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…
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.
I actually DNF’ed this book at about 52%. Not because it wasn’t good. The writing is solid (as usual with Rachel Vincent), the plot was moving along, the setting was clever, and the characters were interesting.
So why in the world would I not finish this book?
Menagerie is one of those grotesquely miserable books with no end in sight. The first bit of misery was sort of like, “Ok, I can handle this, surely we’re going to move on to less misery soon.” Nope. Still super miserable. Everything. It’s really pretty terrible. People being tortured. Nobody really being fed enough. Lots of, “oh, you have to take all of your clothes off now. If you don’t we’ll do it for you.” And then they chain up the main character and cut her clothes off.
Sorry. Just not my cup of tea.
Like, I know those sorts of unspeakably terrible things and worse happen to people all over the world, but I don’t really want to read about them in my entertainment.
Menagerie is set in a dystopian type society where Cryptids (supernatural creatures) are feared, hated, and locked up if caught by humans because of an attack many years ago that killed thousands of human children. Delilah didn’t even know she was a cryptid until she was at the Menagerie, looking into the very humanoid exhibits cages, and got outraged by the treatment of a young werewolf. And by outraged, I mean her cryptid nature came out and she brutally attacked the abusive handler. Immediately all her rights are taken away from her, and Delilah is sold to the Menagerie. I think you can imagine what happens from there. It gets real dark real quick.
Gallagher was the only real reason I even considered continuing. As Delilah’s handler, he’s not quite kind, but he takes care of her and tries to protect her from the other awful Menagerie employees. He’s an incredibly mysterious character (I have my suspicions about his secrets), and I really wanted a romance between him and Delilah (although according to Vincent, this isn’t a romance).
At some point I may return to this one and read the rest of it. I’m sort of assuming I stopped just before all the terrible stuff was about to ease up, but I’m not really interested enough to continue at this point.