Book Talk: Menagerie & Spectacle by Rachel Vincent

Book Talk: Menagerie & Spectacle by Rachel VincentMenagerie by Rachel Vincent
Series: Menagerie #1
Published by Harlequin MIRA on October 1, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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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 big-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.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.

Trigger warning: for pretty much everything, but especially sexual assault

Menagerie and Spectacle were such great and terrible reads for 2017. They’re books soaked in rage at the government and the patriarchy, and there’s something not-so-oddly satisfying about those sorts of reads during this Orwellian era. There’s rape and racism, and prepare to spend basically all of the book incandescently infuriated, which you’re meant to be. Unsurprisingly, they’re also deeply unsettling and uncomfortable.

This series takes place in a world where paranormal creatures exist but haven’t been given any human rights. The setting, at least for Menagerie is a circus with a menagerie of magical creatures, who are treated like shit, despite the fact that many of them even look human. There are very obvious parallels to race here. As a result, I’m pretty disappointed that the heroine is a white woman, because like fucking of course. There’s a lot of diversity in the novel, but she’s the one who helps them rise up, which *sigh*. The book could have been stronger without that imo.

On the plus side, the heroine is basically personified vengeance, and she makes anyone who abuses suffer mightily, which is deeply emotionally satisfying. She forces one guard, who forced a female shifter to give him a blow job in exchange for a fair ration, to tear his own dick to shreds. This book does not mess around.


I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Menagerie & Spectacle by Rachel VincentSpectacle by Rachel Vincent
Series: Menagerie #2
Published by Harlequin MIRA on May 30, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 392
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Goodreads

In this riveting sequel to New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent's acclaimed novel Menagerie, Delilah Marlow will discover that there is no crueler cage than the confines of the human mind…

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.

Spectacle I liked a bit less than Menagerie, although both are very well-written and raise complex concepts in an interesting way. Also, the sheer rage really fit my mood. Aside from A Darkly Beating Heart, I can’t think of any other books so full of anger. Sometimes you may find you need this in your life.

Where Spectacle didn’t work for me as well was in the plot. On the one hand, I did appreciate that, despite overthrowing the menagerie at the end of Menagerie, that’s not the end of the war. They’re still trapped in a country that doesn’t believe they deserve any rights or protections, and I rather like that they got caught immediately. There’s a realism to that, even though it super sucks. They end up going to an even worse place that whores them out and makes them participate in gladatorial combat, so this book’s even squickier than before. The plot ends up involving amnesia and View Spoiler », but which might work better for other readers.

If you want to read about a bunch of white men doing horrific things but then getting ripped apart for them, this series is for you.

3 responses to “Book Talk: Menagerie & Spectacle by Rachel Vincent”

  1. Leah says:

    I love books that take place in circuses and/or carnivals. I’ve been working on an idea set in a circus–and then I saw the premise for this series and thought, “Well, hell, there goes my idea.” LOL! I had to rework some of my plot since it was similar to this one, but it was worth it.

    What a bummer what it has the white savior going for it though. I still plan to read

  2. ken says:

    Hi, I love reading, and I like fantasy, thriller books so much. Thank you for sharing this amazing list of books. Keep posting!

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