Rated of 5
by 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.