i am giving this four
stars cats because of how much fun i had reading it. the objective critic in me acknowledges that the book has weaknesses, but she is easily drowned out by the WOO HOO FUN part of me (who is also drowning out the spiteful hurt feelings part of me with tiny shaking fist and outrage, peeping “one star cat only! for spurning me!!”)
objective critic is going to take over the review for a bit because WOO HOO FUN part isn’t a particularly cogent reviewer.
so, this picks up a bit after the end of Menagerie, a book which recounts the long and troubled relationship between humans and cryptids, who are dealt with in a variety of ways; one of which is to be rounded up and caged, displayed in traveling circuses, robbed of whatever humanity they have and paraded as freaks. delilah had always believed herself to be human until something ‘other’ surfaced in her, very publicly, and she was caged with the rest, suffering all the indignities cryptids had so long endured, experiencing the loss of her freedom and expectation of respect and basic courtesy while trying to figure out just what she is and the extent of her powers or attributes. it’s a big old urban fantasy allegory about racism and genocide and dehumanization, and it’s a clever conceit couched in a bon bon of fantasy and adventure and empowerment.
book one leaves off, not with a cliffhanger, but a change in circumstances (delicately evasive for spoilerphobes); it could have worked perfectly well as a standalone, but it’s much more satisfying to revisit these characters and see what comes next for them.
even if what comes next is horrifying.
Spectacle is in many ways similar in content to Menagerie, but it’s a definite escalation in peril as our cryptid friends experience one of the other ways cryptids are exploited, one much worse than being a sideshow act, within the confines of The Savage Spectacle. this is a high-end ‘anything goes’ playground for the 1%, where wealthy perverts and sadists pay for the opportunity to abuse cryptids for sport or entertainment. fitted with collars that suppress their powers or shock them into compliance, which can paralyze them or even take away their voice entirely, the cryptids are reduced to the basest of beasts; hunted as sport with weapons of varying lethality, forced to participate in death matches against other cryptids, tarted-up in paint and skimpy outfits to serve canapés at parties, and led into private rooms for more intimate encounters.
delilah and friends are so much more vulnerable here, despite the better accommodations and food and the fancier clientele
The huge room swallowed my footsteps and amplified my fear, making me feel insignificant in a way that being locked in a small cage never could have.
The guests were college-age men in business-casual dress, most of whom had already found the alcoholic beverage of their choice. Their chatter died as we entered the room, and I could feel every gaze on me. The attention felt simultaneously familiar and completely foreign, because though I’d been on display at Metzger’s, a menagerie patron’s motivation to plop down his credit card was almost always simple curiosity, tempered by fear. He or she wanted to see dangerous creatures – perhaps even those responsible for the reaping – removed from true threat by miracle of steel cages and iron bars.
But the patrons at the Savage Spectacle didn’t just look curious, they looked hungry. Greedy. These men – most of them near my age – didn’t believe we represented any threat, and it had never occurred to them, probably in their entire lives, that they might not have the right to do whatever they wanted in any given moment.
I could practically smell their anticipation in the air.
it’s entitlement gone mad, and it is indeed a spectacle, of the most brutal kind.
Spectacle is a bigger book in many ways – bigger consequences, bigger allegorical reach scooping in reproductive control, suppression of communication or expression, and a much more pronounced objectification – when bodies can be paralyzed at the push of a button and moved around like dolls, they are easily dismissed as moneymaking playthings.
but people easily dismissed have one advantage: being underestimated. and that can lead to some spectacles of its own.
it’s a really entertaining follow up, and i’m glad to know there’s a third book coming, as this series is the only urban fantasy i’ve ever really enjoyed. having said that, the writing is not phenomenal. not painful, just basic a-to-b writing. but for a story like this, it’s not like you’re craving a challenging read full of subtext and linguistic curlicues. you know what you’re getting in to, and objective critic is just mentioning it because reportage.
let’s check in with WOO HOO FUN part of karen:
WOO HOO!! SO MANY DRAMATIC THINGS HAPPEN!! RAAARRRRR MONSTERS!!! WHAT A FUN AND HORRIBLE TIME I HAD READING THIS!
and the tiny outraged part:
i am still in a tiff! i am vexed!! recognize my umbrage!!!
maybe i will not be denied book 3 when it becomes available??
hey, harlequin – remember when you wouldn’t let me have this book on netgalley? big mistake, because i just went out and BOUGHT it. suckaaaas!
OH MY GOD – DENIED!!!! i shake my tiny fist at you, harlequin! apparently, i’m not welcome because i’m not a blogger, even though i am both a bookseller (who has kept Menagerie on my table at the store FOREVER) and a nonblog reviewer and technically, a librarian. for those of you who want to request something from them on netgalley, here are the requirements, so you can prove your worth accordingly:
Thank you for requesting one of our titles. Unfortunately you do not meet our publisher approval preferences outlined below:
For all Harlequin imprints including MIRA, HQN, and all Harlequin series imprints, please provide the following information in your PROFILE:
Harlequin accepts booksellers who manage the purchasing of fiction as well as general booksellers.
Please include the name and location of your bookstore/retailer as well as your position.
Harlequin accepts librarians who manage purchasing for adult fiction titles.
Please include the name and location of your library as well as your position.
Harlequin accepts educators who also review for publications, including blogs, newspapers, magazines, etc (please see reviewer guidelines below). We also accept those who manage the purchasing of adult titles for post-secondary libraries.
Please include the name and location of your school, as well as your position.
Please include a direct link to your review site and/or direct links to your reviews.
In order to be approved, your review space must follow this criteria:
– Your book blog has been established and active for 3 months+.
– You regularly update your book blog with book reviews, author interviews, or book discussion threads.
– Your blog displays reader interaction (i.e. comments, giveaway entries, good social media following).
– Please provide information on the number of unique visitors you receive in a given month (500+ are preferred).
LESS THAN ONE YEAR NOW!