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Paranormal Fantasy Early Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent (Menagerie #1)

Egalley thanks to MIRA

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.

Release date: September 29th 2015

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
 The closest I can compare this new series from Rachel Vincent is The Others by Anne Bishop and Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs. It has the same level of nasty tension between people and cryptids as in Bishop's books, and it has mythology more familiar to Briggs. And it's also wholesomely awesome! So, if you are a fan of one or the other, buy it! It has a decent price on kindle.

Delilah Marlow spent all her life thinking she is human. Sure, she is very uncomfortable with human policy towards cryptids,  who are treated as animals or objects, not sentient beings, but she is also not strong enough to object it out loud, not when the famous Reaping of 1986 when more than a million children in US got murdered, is still fresh in people's minds.

Then on her twenty fifth birthday her boyfriend buys her a ticket to a famous Menagerie, and she sees a young shifter girl getting abused openly and for the amusement of the customers. Suddenly she turns into a monster herself, and the life as she knows it comes crushing down. In a space of one evening she loses all her rights and gets sold into that same Menagerie to take her off local police's hands.

Vincent writes tenacious, unbending heroines really well, and Delilah is not an exception.

"Drea, why don't you turn a circle and give us a good look?" the talker said, his chest all puffed out, as if he'd had something to do with making me perform.
"Fuck you," I said, nice and clear, in spite of my fuller voice, so everyone could hear.
A couple of teens near the back of the crowd laughed, but the mothers scowled and covered their children's ears.
"Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen," the talker called with an amiable chuckle. "Most of our exhibits were born and raised in the carnival, and they hear a lot of rough language."
"Most of our handlers are full of shit," I added, drawing more laughter from the back of the crowd. "I learned to cuss the same place all of your kids did. In middle school."

Her environment is brutal and her handlers are mostly sadistic and vicious. They don't see anything wrong in how they treat beings surrounding Delilah in their cages. The violence is casual, and because of that it's even scarier than any one-off events. The secondary characters come off in layers, and the closer you get to the end the deeper they get. Gallagher is an interesting character, but so is werewolf Claudio and his daughter Genni, the make up artist, the villains Clyde and Ruyle, Zuylya with her casual bitter acceptance of her lot, Eryx, and many, many others.

This is a fast-paced book, very intense and gripping, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Like Bishop, Vincent exposes racism at its ugliest and sends a strong message of hope and unwillingness to accept things as they are. I loved it. Highly recommended.

* * *
Ближе всего эта книга по духу напоминает Патрицию Бриггз с её Мерси Томпсон и серию Другие от Энн Бишоп. Мифология здесь классическая как у Бриггз, а вот уровень напряжённости и жуткого расизма людей по отношению к криптидам- это прям как у Бишоп. Так что, если вы поклонник той или другой, я не сомневаюсь, что книга эта будет читаться запоем.

Далила Марлоу  все свои двадцать пять лет прожила, считая себя человеком. Да, она получила степень по крипто-ветеринарии и её очень огорчает как люди поступают с криптидами, у которых, несмотря на то, что они разумные существа, нет никаких прав (прям как у чернокожих рабов в прошлом), и к ним относятся хуже, чем к животным. Но Далила держит рот на замке, так как множество людей до сих пор помнят  как в Скосе 1986 года по вине криптидов было убито больше миллиона детей.

Однако когда она посещает Зверинец Мецгера (наиболее многочисленное собрание криптидов в США) по приглашению бойфренда, она сама на минуту превращается в монстра, когда оказывается свидетелем жестокого обращения с подростком оборотнём. 

На этом жизнь Далилы, как она её знает обрывается. За одну ночь она лишается прав, имущества, и её продают в Зверинец того самого Мецгера, где одному из его дрессировщиков, Галлахеру, предстоит её сломать и подготовить к выступлениям всего лишь за пару недель. 

Винсент в характерном для неё стиле создаёт живучую, сильную волей героиню, которая не сдаётся, не смотря ни на что. Мир её окружающий жесток, дрессировщики - садисты и брутальны по-обыденному. Они не видят ничего плохого или экстраординарного в том, как они относятся к критидам. Второстепенные персонажи полны слоёв, и их секреты раскрываются постепенно. Галлахер - интересный персонаж, но и оборотень Клодио, минотавр Эрикс, садисты дрессировщики Клайд и Рюйль и многие другие также непросты.

Зверинец - книга напряжённая, и читается очень быстро. Как и Бишоп, Винсент показывает расизм в его наиболее уродливом воплощении и доносит до нас послание надежды и нежелания смириться с вещами так, как они есть. Читала с огромным наслаждением и вам советую!

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