Fantasy Friday: Rachel Vincent

This week’s Fantasy Friday features Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie series.

I first found Rachel via her blog, about three months before her first Shifter book, Stray, released. I loved the Shifter series, than fell in love with her Soul Screamers YA series. Then came her Unbound series, which I also enjoyed, though not as much as her other two series. Basically, I will give anything this woman writes a try. She’s earned a spot on my auto-buy list, and it isn’t easy to get on that. So when Menagerie was announced I was excited to see what she’d created this time around, and was not disappointed.

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!

___________

click on covers to go to Amazon

note: this is the new paperback reissue cover for Menagerie. I love it! But the original cover, currently on Amazon, is beautiful as well.

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Menagerie is the first book in the series, and the only one available at this time. It’s the story of Delilah Marlowe, who learns the hard way that she isn’t exactly human. By the end of the book, she discovers she’s a Fury. I loved Vincent’s take on this mythical creature- it was refreshingly different than other books I’ve read. Here’s the blurb:

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. 

****

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Spectacle, book two, is due out March 2017. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where Vincent takes this series. Here’s the blurb:

When their coup of Metzger’s Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of “exotic wildlife.” Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle’s owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price. 

But Vandekamp’s closely guarded client list isn’t the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.

****

Menagerie is firmly dark fantasy. I won’t sugarcoat how dark this book is- the events that take place are not for the faint of heart. Abuse, rape, death, and the way the cryptids are treated is not something for every reader. However, I found the story well-worth reading, and the world-building is fantastic and the imagery vivid. The only complaint I really have is that I found the ending slightly rushed. I expected a bit more than was written. That said, while I wish the end had a bit more meat on it, the actual endpoint is satisfying. When I left Delilah and the other cryptids I felt a mix of hope and wariness, because nothing in their world is easy.

I do recommend giving this book a try if you enjoy Dark Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. The world is vivid, imaginative, and while the cruelty within the pages is hard to take, the character journey and rich world are worth the read.

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