Author: Rachel Vincent - http://rachelvincent.com/index.html
Format: Kindle ebook. Free from Net Galley. Link on Amazon.
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: ends on a good note, though you know there is more to explore later.
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal, dystopian
Dates Read: April 8 - May 9, 2016
Official 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 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.
One Sentence: Not what I expected, but so much better!
Full Review: The synopsis makes it sound, at least to my ears, a little more sexy and fantastical than it really was. When Deliliah is “stripped of her worldly possessions”, they don’t just mean things. They mean her human rights. She is property, less than an animal (for cryptids count as less than they). It was angering and more than a little disturbing. It takes a while to get past this most brutal beginning, but there is nothing like detailed rape or gore. Just that dark unpleasantness that is the core of evil in many human beings.
The cryptids are realistic characters, not just “oh it’s a mermaid!”. They have different pasts and stories about how they came to belong to Metzger’s Menagerie, which helps with the world building. There are constant hints about something BIG that happened in the past to make the current events make sense, but other than that, I felt we had a good amount of information to follow along.
The characters were great, not just the main ones like Delilah and Gallager (OMG, I got to love him so much), but so many others like the Claudio, Eryx and Nalah. Some of the ‘good guys’ pissed me off, but it kept their unique viewpoints realistic. Being allies does not mean you will be friends, automatically.
This book was AMAZING, and though I would have LIKED to have some romance, the whole story does NOT need it. Perhaps it’s so rich and fascinating because it doesn’t have a romance to fall back on? Can’t wait for the other two books of this trilogy!
Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 stars