The curse of the beautiful cover hit me again, but I’m so glad it did. Menagerie by Rachel Vincent totally lived up to my expectations, and wins a spot on my ‘favourite books of the year’ list.
Synopsis: Delilah knew that going to Metzger’s Menagerie on her birthday was a bad idea, but the tickets were expensive and her boyfriend only wanted to do something fun and special for her. Even as a child she never liked the idea of keeping cryptids in captivity, yet everyone else seems to be enjoying the show. She’s just as curious about all the mythical beings that share their world, but when one of the handlers pushes an attractions too far she can’t help but react, which lands her in more trouble than she ever expected.
This book builds really well and I was surprised by many of the things that happened to the main characters, which doesn’t always happen. I had no idea going in that this wasn’t just going to be paranormal fantasy. There’s a little bit of alternate history/urban fantasy thrown in there as well, since mythical creatures are known to be real and many of the major events that lead up to the story happen in the ’80s.
There were so many different and interesting creatures in this novel, and I’m super excited that the series will be a trilogy because there is so much more I need to know! All the standard mythological creatures that you would expect are present, but the author drew from many different cultures to come up with some truly interesting and horrifying characters.
This book really focuses on the idea of family being those who you care for and who care about you, and not necessarily the people who share your blood. The most obvious message is to not assume that because one person from a certain group does something bad that all members of that group are inherently bad. This message is reinforced again and again throughout the book as those you expect to be good turn out to be evil and vice versa.
“But if monsters could look like humans, and humans could look like monsters, how could anyone ever really be sure that the right people stood on the outside of all those cages?”