Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder is the delightful story of magic and the entertainers whose lives are defined by the magic they create. The time and setting are never defined, but the story seems to be set in some alternate universe that looks a lot like Earth in the late 1800s but it includes certain technological advancements, like robots, that could never have existed back in those days. However, the author weaves these hi-tech elements so masterfully into the story that they felt natural to the world of the Electrical Menagerie. The plot follows an illusionist named Carthage and his friend and manager, Huxley as they compete with other performers in a once in a lifetime contest that will leave them either wealthy and famous or financially broke and in jail. Their magical act is polished and amazing but their competition is steep and becomes more and more dangerous as the competition goes on.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Electrical Menagerie and I have nothing but praise for it. The plot is fun, exciting, and sweet in all the right places. In the main characters of Carthage and Huxley, Ms. Reeder has given us two fully developed characters that are interesting, lovable and easy to root for. There are many other colorful characters that are also masterfully painted throughout the story including a mysterious love interest, a couple of shady characters, and one endearing robot.
I also applaud The Electrical Menagerie for staying away from the coarse language and sexual escapades that most novels include these days. This book is squeaky clean in those areas but still contains enough adventure, heroics, and foul play that it does not miss the negative content at all. On the contrary. The Electrical Menagerie fires with every steam-filled cylinder in its effort to entertain. It’s a thrilling ride full of magic, adventure, and wonderful characters.