Desert Isle Keeper
In Menagerie, author Rachel Vincent introduces us to a fantasy world both wondrous and strange that isn’t populated by countless vampires. Instead, we’re introduced to mermaids, minotaurs, sirens and a host of other creatures straight out of mythology. The skilled performance given by narrator Gabra Zackman adds to the appeal of this audiobook.
Delilah Marlow remembers the first time Metzger’s Traveling Menagerie came to town. She was only eleven then, and was both entranced and repulsed by the bizarre creatures on display. Now, fourteen years later, the menagerie is back, and Delilah’s well-meaning boyfriend has procured tickets for her birthday. Once again, Delilah has mixed feelings as she surveys the captive creatures. Then, a handler mistreats a young werewolf, and Delilah is enraged. Without realizing what she is doing, she nearly kills the trainer, calling into question everything she thought she knew about herself and her life up until this point.
After this, Delilah herself becomes part of the menagerie. Her handlers may not know what kind of creature she is, but they’re sure she’ll bring in good money. It’s up to the strong, silent and cryptic Gallagher to break her spirit and bring her secrets to light. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose his job and Delilah might just lose her life.
For someone who grew up being treated like a human, life behind bars is beyond horrible. Delilah is no longer considered a person, and has no rights. She’s completely at the mercy of her captors. She must join forces with Gallagher and with a select few of the other captives if she wants even the slightest chance at freedom.
I’m a long time fan of Gabra Zackman’s narrations and I find her contralto voice extremely pleasant to listen to. She imbues her words with just the right amount of emotion necessary to bring the story to life. Her depictions of the various characters are believable and gender-appropriate, never straying into the realm of the melodramatic. I have a strong dislike for narrators who act too much, making it hard to take the story seriously. This is not something Ms. Zackman does. I was not pulled out of the story even once by a verbal tic, audible breath, or blatant mispronunciation. In short, her performance is flawless.
I’m guessing Delilah and Gallagher are going to develop feelings for one another as this series progresses. The framework for a relationship between these two is skilfully laid in this first book, but there is no HEA here. However, don’t let this put you off. Even without a clear romance arc, I was captivated by the story.
If you’re looking for something different, I strongly urge you to give Menagerie a try. Ms. Vincent’s world-building is meticulous and thorough, but the information is fed to the listener in small, understandable bits. I can’t wait for Masquerade, book two in this series to be released. Delilah is a fantastic heroine, and I am eager for the next installment in her story.
Breakdown of Grade: Narration: A and Book Content: A Unabridged Length – 10 hours and 57 minutes