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Spectacle by Rachel Vincent


by Rachel Vincent

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576317,857 (3.81)None
"When their coup of Metzger's Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of "exotic wildlife." Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle's owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted--for the right price. But Vandekamp's closely guarded client list isn't the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light" -- provided by publisher.… (more)


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Listened to audio narrated well by Hillary Huber. If you haven't read the first book in the series this will definitely be a spoiler. Delilah and the Menagerie keep running the carnival to earn money to buy back their families until they are caught by the Savage Spectacle. This story is even more brutal than the previous as they are controlled by collars to not only keep them from escaping but to force them to do things ranging from blood sport, to sexual favors for the clients of the Savage Spectacle and everything in between. It isn't always an easy read, but Delilah's determination to avenge and free everyone not matter what they do to her is a beacon of hope. Intense read, can't wait for the next installment.

My blog https://wyldheartreads.wordpress.com/
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  wyldheartreads | Jun 20, 2019 |
I was a tad torn on this one at first... It was a different feel than book one and that's what turned me off. With Menagerie we got this outdoorsy, raw, dirty feel and with Spectacle it's a clean more technological theme. I'm sure dystopian techies loved this twist, but for me I preferred the carnival world. I craved the circus music and grit.

About halfway through I did start to appreciate the storyline and found myself intrigued by the plot. By the time the cryptids started their revenge, I was addicted.

I think overall, I expected one thing and got another. It took time to adjust to the newness, but gradually I learned to appreciate it. I'm not sure how I feel about a third book, but I hope Vincent brings back the grit and throws in some romance. ( )
  ReadersCandyb | Apr 25, 2019 |
Missing that certain indefinable something that made MENAGERIE so special.

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for violence, including rape and forced abortion.)

Her hair. She’d had several beautiful whitish blooms blossoming in her hair.

Now those blossoms were gone.

One of the other ladies knelt next to her and laid a hand on Magnolia’s shoulder, but the nymph turned on her, teeth gnashing. Mossy-green eyes flashed beneath the tiny woody tendrils growing in place of her eyelashes.

“Oh...” Simra breathed, and I turned to her with a questioning look. “They got rid of it.”


“The baby.”

“She was pregnant?” I whispered, horrified. “Vandekamp ended it?”

“His wife. She won’t let the ‘monsters’ breed.”

The only thing I could imagine worse than being forced to end the pregnancy was how Magnolia might have gotten pregnant in the first place.


When Menagerie debuted in 2015, I devoured an early copy faster and with more passion than a piping hot bowl of Daiya cheese sauce. It alternately had me squealing in delight, pumping my fist in the air, and squirming in my seat as if a whole mess of fire ants had set up residence there. More than anything, Menagerie inspired a jaw-dropping sense of disbelief: am I really reading what I think I'm reading here? I then went on to spend most of the next five days writing one of my most epic reviews ever. (Rivaled only by my treatise on The Female of The Species.)

Since then, I've read it several more times, including on audiobook, which incidentally spawned one of my favorite video recordings of one of my favorite rescue dogs, Mags (she of The Hunger Games fame; her son's name is Finnick).


When the sequel was finally (!) released into the wild, I promptly requested an ARC on NetGalley...and then proceeded to sit on it for more than a year. I was just so scared to touch the damn thing! While Menagerie was most likely meant as an allegory for the treatment of Muslims (and brown people as a whole) after 9/11, it was impossible for me not to read it as a story about animal rights, however unintentional. (In the vegan community, we call this "accidentally vegan," like Oreos. Yum!)

Every mistreatment of the cryptids in Delilah's world - both the humanoid and more "bestial" ones - has an obvious and devastating corollary here in the real world, in our interactions with nonhuman animals. From forced impregnation to the separation of parents and children; the exhibition of animals in zoos and circuses; vivisection, including for the most trivial of reasons, like developing new household cleaners; physical punishment under the guise of training; and even crush videos and bestiality. And while we dismiss these atrocities since they're "only animals," Vincent nails the crux of the issue in Menagerie: it's not intelligence that counts, or DNA, or one's physical approximation to humans. The only thing that matters is sentience: a being's ability to feel pain (or joy) and suffer.

The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? – Jeremy Bentham

The cryptids in Menagerie are indeed sentient - as are the billions of nonhuman animals we enslave, torture, and kill every year. It's impossible not to draw parallels.

And yet. Given that I'm 99.9% positive these parallels were unplanned, I worried that Vincent would walk them back in the sequel; undo some of the amazing arguments put forth in Menagerie. And so I hemmed and hawed and put Spectacle on the back burner until I could stand the suspense no further.

The good news is that my fears were largely unfounded. While the moral and philosophical underpinnings of Delilah's furiae - so eloquently (though not imperfectly) laid out in Menagerie - remain mostly unstated in Spectacle, they are not challenged in any way. Delilah and her compatriots are the victims: victims of a cruel and inhumane society that dehumanizes, objectifies, and others them. Because humans are afraid. Because it elevates them. Because they can. Because there is a profit to be made by doing so.

The bad news? Spectacle is just an okay book. Entertaining enough, sure, but nowhere near as revolutionary as Menagerie.

After several months on the run, operating Metzger's Menagerie like it's just a regular old traveling circus, earning cash monies and buying up/rescuing fellow cryptids where they can, Delilah and company are found out, captured, and sent off to one of the "worse" places: the Savage Spectacle. Owned by one of Delilah's former professors, Willem Vandekamp, Spectacle rents out its cryptids by the hour. Clients are free to do whatever, as long as they're willing to pay for the privilege.

Some of the more dangerous cryptids are forced to compete in cage matches, fights to the death (on which spectators place bets, of course; dog fighting, horse racing, or horse fighting, anyone?). When the captives have outlived their usefulness - which happens in a matter of months or years, much as with exploited animals (think: battery hens) in the real world - they are unleashed in the Spectacle's acreage as part of the corporation's captive hunts (again, IRL examples abound!).

Perhaps worst of all, the captives are prevented from fighting back by high-tech collars. One swipe on a cell phone app, and the handlers at Savage Spectacle can administer a shock, paralyze a cryptid, or even strip them of their voice. The collars also work on a biological level to control a cryptid's special powers: "Which means the sirens can’t sing, the succubi can’t seduce, the shifters can’t shift and the beasts can’t lift a hand in aggression. Until we want them to." Luckily, Delilah is (technically) human, so her sense of justice and retribution remains intact.

Establishments like the Savage Spectacle were whispered about in hushed, fearful tones from behind the bars of Metzger's Menagerie. They were the boogie men that Metzger used to keep his captives in line: act up, and you'll end up at a place even worse than here. But is it? Really?

While rape in the form of sexual trafficking is rampant at the Spectacle, rape also occurred at Metzger's: he forced "exhibits" to breed so that he could sell their offspring. Instead of forced abortion, as at Spectacle, Metzger's had forced pregnancy and birth. Captives were not intentionally murdered at the carnival, but they were neglected and sometimes shipped off to places where they would be killed, such as research institutions or game preserves.

Is it really possible to rank oppressions?

I feel like Spectacle is Vincent's attempt to up the ante, to create a world more shocking and appalling than even Metzger's. And I don't think that's possible, because again: how do you compare atrocities? It's all terrible and horrifying and makes anyone with an ounce of humanity not want to live on this planet anymore.

Additionally, the result feels formulaic and not nearly as original and groundbreaking as Menagerie: Delilah (and her friends) is captured; she suffers unspeakable abuse; she leads a revolt and ferries her fellow victims to (relative) safety. We've already done this, okay? Give me a fracking political revolution already. Cryptids will only be "safe" when they are free; when society recognizes them as individuals, not property: someones, not somethings - and treats them accordingly. We need an equal rights amendment for nonhumans, okay. (Worldwide, because otherwise it's useless for cryptids who have far-reaching migratory patterns. YES, I HAVE THOUGHT THIS THROUGH, WHY DO YOU ASK.) The first book convinced us of this, so why double down on the witness to suffering thing?

Spectacle is missing that wild, indefinable spark that made Menagerie a tour de force. It's entertaining enough, though hardly memorable. None of Rommily's premonitions sent shivers down my spine; no one scene saw me jumping out of my chair with excitement and anticipation.

Menagerie...did things to me. Made me feel all kinds of crazy and unexpected feels. It will sit with me, forever: weighing on my soul, dancing in my heart. It's a fantastic riot, a call to arms. A goddamn life philosophy. An impossible act to follow, probably, so perhaps I shouldn't hold it against Vincent too harshly.

Fury popped up on NetGalley a week ago. As soon as I submit this review, I'll be putting in my request. Fingers tentatively crossed.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2018/07/03/spectacle-by-rachel-vincent/ ( )
  smiteme | Jun 10, 2018 |
This is the second book in the Menagerie series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is a very dark story, set in an alternate world where cryptids exist and are persecuted by the rest of humanity.

This story picks up where the first one left off. Delilah and crew are running their own Menagerie and dodging authorities by pretending certain members of their troupe are human. When they are discovered, many of their member are captured and sold into The Savage Spectacle.

This is definitely an adult book; there is quite a bit of abuse, torture, and sexual assault in here. I continued to enjoy all the different races of cryptids and was on pins and needles waiting to discover what would happen to our beloved characters.

The story was fast-paced, the characters were engaging, and the book is well written and easy to read. I enjoyed it a lot, I think this has been my favorite series from Vincent yet.

Overall a great addition to this series. This has been a well written alternate world paranormal urban fantasy about a world where the monsters aren’t necessarily the real monsters. I would recommend to those who enjoy dark paranormal/urban fantasy reads. I definitely plan on continuing the series. ( )
  krau0098 | May 10, 2018 |
I could not read the first book fast enough. I was anxiously awaiting this book to come out. I grabbed a copy right away. Yet, I struggled to get into the story. It was stop and go for me. This went on for about several chapters and twice before I put the book down with disappointment. In fact I was ready to walk away for good from this book. However, I thought I would give the book one last try. The third time was better. Not going to say it was a charm as it wasn't. I just was able to focus on the story better this time around but with some speed bumps.

For example, for almost about a third of the way into the story, it was slow going. There was not really a lot happening. I had hints of what Savage Spectacle was about but did not actually experience any of it until a few chapters prior to Part Two (half way mark). If it had not been for my fondness of Delilah, I might have put this book down again. Yet, she showed a strong will as a fighter. Additionally, I was giddy with delight to see Gallagher as well. He will always be Delilah's knight. What made this book less appealing to me is the dark and provocative, fantasy elements that I enjoyed from reading the first book. Yet, this book is dark but not in the same magical way Menagerie. Part Two of this book is better then Part One. ( )
  Cherylk | Aug 20, 2017 |
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