Samantha H. (Golden, CO)
Jamrach's Menagerie - truly an adventure
Jamrach's Menagerie is a compelling story of a boy swept away on a seafaring adventure. I got completely caught up in the story of Jaffy and Tim, and watching how adventure and strife shape their lives. Very well written. I highly recommend this book.
Paula W. (Sarasota, FL)
A Truly Terrible Book
From the very first paragraph..."I was born twice. First in a wooden room...,and then again...in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth...." - this novel was full of terrible and awful events.
Jaffey's adventures are terrifying and amazing , nothing like I have read before. This is wild, raw excitement - whaling,, shipwrecks, dragons - no description is too graphic for author Birch. I put the book down several times - but was compelled to return.
"Jamrach's Menagerie" is not for the faint of heart. But the narrative - so alive with winds, waves, horror - also has tender and poetic moments and characters who are very well drawn and worth the effort to get to know.
Ginger K. (Ballwin, MO)
A tale of tales
I found this book to be story and temperament in the tradition of Dickens which in my view is excellent. The story of animal loving seafaring young men is a winner. There is enough fantasy mixed with grueling reality and exotic animals to remind one of the original fairy tales of Grimm............engaging and sometimes gruesome this book hold interest until the end. I would recomend it to readers age 12 and up and believe that it would make a good discussion piece for young adults.
Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)
If you like mystery and suspense, you will definitely love this one. I wasn't so sure about it in the beginning, but it reeled me right in. Once it got me, it was hard to put down till I finished. From being almost eaten alive by a tiger to sailing on the seas. Friendships made and friendships gone. Very interesting. I will definitely be looking for more of Carol Birch's books.
Carol J. (Isle, MN)
What a great adventure! A well told, exciting historical novel. Ms. Birch brings the reader right along on all of Jaffy's adventures. She skillfully gives the reader a glimpse of the lives of seafarers in the 19th century. Plus, the added dimension of fantasy with the discovery of the dragon. A very delightful book. Would be a fun bookclub discussion.
Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
Jamrach’s Menagerie is a legitimate heir of Dickens. Jaffee Brown, a young boy, is growing up in a squalid part of Victorian London, where children have early-onset adulthood. The weird luck of being carried about in the jaws of an escaped tiger leads to a job at the exotic animal emporium of the book’s title and a berth on a whaling ship. The real quest of the voyage is to capture a then-rumored, now zoo-housed beast.
This is a book of the senses. We hear, taste, feel, and especially smell Jaffee’s unpasteurized life. This is certainly a coming-of-age story but the growing-up is via the fast-track of gruesome ordeal. The book might carry a warning label for squeamish readers.
We could learn from this book that getting through the hardest bits of life might be luck or grace. Either way, the job of a survivor is to create sanctuary.
Elinor S. (Naples, FL)
I felt that the book was very realistic (in spite of the dragon). Descriptively, so realistic, it made me uncomfortable. I like to learn from a book. I felt my knowledge of sailing in the 19 century was increased, however the later subject matter (cannibalism) made me sick. I'm not sure to what audience this would appeal.