This post was originally just a review of the first book in the Menagerie series, however I am very behind on my 2019 reviews so I’ve decided to edit the post to include reviews for all three books in the series, with it being re-posted today!
This series completely consumed me; I couldn’t get it out of my head, I talked about it at work & raced through all three of the instalments. I can’t believe this series isn’t talked about more, because it’s bloody fantastic.
⚠️ This series includes violence, abuse toward & hunting of fantasy animal species, forced imprisonment, rape, bloody gore, forced abortion, parental violence toward a child, hunting, mass shootings/murders & other uncomfortable scenes ⚠️
So as you can tell from the warnings listed above this isn’t a YA story, but instead a very dark adult fantasy – the majority of fantasy that I read isn’t aimed at adults but I loved how dark & deep this incredible series was. I fell in love with the series & it’s protagonist in book one, but as I got through book two & three, my addiction just intensified. This series gave me massive book hangovers between reads, I spoke about the stories at work with colleagues & I raced through each book whenever I got the opportunity. This series is fierce, & if the warnings don’t put you off, I definitely recommend it.
This series is set in a world where mythical creatures are very much real, but also very much feared & therefore imprisoned. In Menagerie, protagonist Delilah goes to see the famous Metzger’s Menagerie for her birthday & her life is thrown upside down when she finds out that she may not be human; Delilah finds herself locked away with the creatures of Metzger’s, questioning her entire life & where she came from. Menagerie follows Delilah as she comes to terms with her new identity, whilst also trying to help the creatures she’s been locked away with to fight against starvation, abuse & forced imprisonment. Delilah & her new friends have to work together to fight for the freedom they, & others in their position, deserve, but nothing is ever easy & the group face a lot of challenges throughout.
The story continues in Spectacle with us being shown more of this world & it’s cruelties; we’re exposed to how evil humanity can be & get to witness incredible strength, endurance & resilience from all the main characters. When I read Menagerie I lived for how dark it was, but Spectacle made Menagerie look like a children’s book – the details in Spectacle were 10x worse than book one, & a big part of this was the fact that I can totally see humans treating hybrids & mythical creatures in exactly the way shown in this book. Delilah loses some of her strength in book two & we get to see a more vulnerable side to her – watching Delilah’s resilience getting chipped away at was really hard & I just wanted to help her. Spectacle was definitely the darkest book in the series.
Fury is the third & final book in this series, & it was a fantastic end to an incredible series. Fury was released at the end of 2018 so there was a big part of me hoping that there may be a forth book in the works, but the ending made it very clear that this series is a trilogy. As with the other two books, Delilah & her friends (who are now more like family) face a lot of hardship in Fury, however there are small glimmers of hope hidden throughout the novel. In books one & two we mainly get a look into the institutions that work to keep the mythical creatures of the series contained for others’ entertainment, but in book three we get a look at the past & an insight into what the outside world think of creatures & people like Delilah. Book three was, in places, a lot happier than the earlier books, but it was also more heartbreaking too & it was definitely an emotional roller-coaster.
The Menagerie series is a pretty brutal story that isn’t for the fainthearted – a lot of the abuse detailed in the pages of the books feel very close to being animal abuse, which is upsetting enough as it is, but when you add in that most of the creatures can talk & communicate, it makes those scenes even harder to stomach. When Delilah is locked away & facing so much danger the reader experiences the massive changes in her life alongside her & Rachel Vincent’s writing does a very good job of making you empathise. Rachel makes you think about how you would cope with being locked away in a cage, with being fed scraps, with being beaten every time you tried to fight against having your dignity ripped away from you, how you would feel having your entire body controlled & used by cruel strangers, & how you would feel to witness people you care about experiencing the same tortures. This series is packed full of emotion & I think that’s a big reason why I’m still thinking about it weeks after finishing it.
I really like books that come with a detailed history, & throughout the series we get to learn about an awful event that occurred years before Delilah’s capture & this history has a huge effect on why & how Delilah, & other creatures, are treated. World-building is so important to me & even though Menagerie is set in America, the history of the world is only subtly different to real life, which makes it very easy to imagine something like this happening in reality. I genuinely think humans would react to mythical creatures in the way they do in Rachel Vincent’s world (to be honest, I think real life humans would react even worse than those in this story) & that just adds to the pain you feel whilst reading this book.
The series’ plot is complicated, detailed & full of surprises; at times it is very character led, but mainly it’s led by the world-building & the rules of the world it’s set in. Following characters who are imprisoned means a lot of sitting back & watching things play out – this was incredibly frustrating at times, but when people started to fight back, it was worth the wait. Delilah’s character development throughout the series differs from the standard development as we see her getting to grips with who she has always been, rather than watching her change into someone new, & this was a really cool way to see a character change.
If you choose to read this series you get to go on a very dangerous & emotional journey with a very strong & determined protagonist, who refuses to let the abuse & hatred she experiences & witnesses, break her down. Delilah shows so much love for her allies, & despite the horrors within the series, Delilah’s goodness shines through throughout. Please, please, please read these books so that I can scream about this series with someone else!
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