In Xanadu, Wyoming the descendants of Kublai Kahn keep a menagerie full of mythical beasts and beings, protecting them from the outer world. Someone has let all six baby griffins out, and unless the family can find them, the menagerie will be shut down. Twelve-year-old Zoe Kahn is frantic with worry, hunting them in every spare minute she has. Then, Logan, the new boy in town, finds one of the baby griffins in his room and proves adept at handling the magical beings. Trouble is, he’s an outsider, and letting outsiders learn about the Menagerie is at least as bad as letting the griffins out in the first place. Zoe can’t let him learn more, but he’s not going away.
The Menagerie is a tremendously fun book. The viewpoint alternates between that of Logan, newcomer to the town and amazed by the menagerie and the new world it offers and Zoe, who has spent her life taking care of the menagerie. Though she sometimes resents it, she is fiercely protective of it and its creatures. Together with Blue, Zoe’s friend from the Menagerie, they comb the town in search of the young griffins and try to figure out who let them out. Their growing friendship and respect for one another is a delight. Both are independent, thoughtful individuals who approach the problem in their own way. Family ties are also important here: Logan’s missing mother, his father, Zoe’s parents and siblings, Blue’s family, and the griffin parents are all part of the story without stealing the scene.
And the mythical creatures are marvelous. Each of the six missing griffins has its own voice, opinions, and reasons for leaving once their enclosure (more like a playpen–the adult griffins can get out) is opened. There are two haughty unicorns, a neurotic phoenix, and a grumpy goose that lays golden eggs. Also, there are more animal like beasts like the hell hounds and the woolly mammoth. The book would be worth reading if it consisted of wandering around the menagerie talking to the animals. As it is, it also has a mystery solved within the volume and a secondary mystery designed to go through at least one more volume.
Recommended for fans of mythical beasts, animal companions, good friendships, and fantasy.
Published March 12th 2013 by HarperCollins
ISBN 0060780649 (ISBN13: 9780060780647)