I’m not sure how to review this book. I have all these thoughts and opinions pinging around in my head, but I’ll try to get them in order. This book was brutal. Absolutely brutal. If you’ve read the previous release, Menagerie, you might be ready to dive into Spectacle, but be prepared to be even more horrified by what happens to these characters than before. If you were thrilled when the cryptids took over Metzger’s Menagerie and had hope that they would be able to live in peace for a while, just know that shit can always get worse and in this case it absolutely does.
I was one of those readers who was thrilled by the ending to Menagerie. The Cryptids overcame their captors, broke out of their chains and cages and, for many, gained freedom for the first time in their lives. All of this was led by Delilah, who as a Furiae is the embodiment of wrathful justice, and her sworn protector, the only known living Red Cap, Gallagher. Readers only get to see them and their friends enjoying their new-found freedom for a few pages before they are ripped apart and forcibly taken to a new hell on Earth, The Savage Spectacle. Where before they are given terrible living conditions with barely enough food to keep them alive, in the Spectacle they have three meals a day, are given clean clothes, allowed to bathe and have medical attention, but are forced to endure even worse humiliations and indignities.
They are made to wear collars that not only repress their cryptid gifts and nature, but also allow their guards to prevent them from speaking and moving. These collars are the invention of the Spectacle owner, Willem Vandekamp, and he is determined to get them approved for use around the country. In the meantime he uses his captives to amuse rich, spoiled crowds, in what ever way they are willing to pay for. Fights, hunts, parties, and even private engagements. Delilah is the only one Vandekamp can’t completely control, and that’s because she’s in essence human, and as she puts it, “with a little something extra”.
Honestly, even while being horrified by the injustices perpetrated upon so many characters I’ve grown to care about, I was also enthralled by this world. Even as my heart pinched and my stomach rolled with each new terrible thing I absolutely had to know how the cryptids would once again find a way to be free. Because I knew they had to. They just had to find a way out.
Gallagher is still awesome and while he and Delilah haven’t had a previous romantic relationship, something happens that leads me to believe they might possibly in the future. Which is fine by me. I didn’t particularly like the way it came about, but it’s done and maybe this will lead to some freaking happiness for these two in the future. Because there has to be some good coming to them, all of them, Eryx and Rommily, Claudio and Genni, Lenore and Kevin, Zyanya, Payat, Simra, Lala and Mirela. I’m invested in every one of these characters and I need to see them find freedom, peace and happiness. Spectacle leaves off in such a way that I’m hopeful that will happen in the next book, but I’m mentally prepared for more awful first.
If you’re thinking of picking this book up and haven’t yet read Menagerie, my advice would be don’t. You’ll be confused. There is a lot of world-building and character set-up in the first book. This was a hard, yet compelling read and I am absolutely looking forward to the release of the next book in the series. Final Grade- B-
I couldn’t pick just one, so here are a few that called to me while I was reading.
The Spectacle was using ignorance as a weapon, keeping us in the dark to leave us disoriented and pliable.
Mine filled with tears. Gallagher was a liberator. A protector. A man of uncompromising character who held others to the same high standard. The sight of him in a collar bruised me all the way to my soul.
Gallagher had not performed for their amusement. He was not their champion– he was mine.
“Civilization isn’t about what you know. It’s about how you behave. How much respect and dignity you give to those around you. The staff here…” I let that thought fade away, because insulting my handler when he’d gone to bat for me wasn’t a great way to buy future favors. “Say it,” he insisted, as the infirmary dew nearer.
I stopped walking and turned to look at him. “You guys have never been denied adequate food. Proper shelter. The right to raise your own children. To choose to have them. To choose who to have then with. You don’t know what it’s like to truly suffer, so it means nothing to you to perpetuate suffering in others.”
And the Oracle led the mighty minotaur out of the maze through a service entrance.