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The Electrical Menagerie

(The Celestial Isles #1)

4.60  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  112 reviews
For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades.

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt.

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-
Published (first published 2018)
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Mollie Reeder It is part of a planned series, but The Electrical Menagerie tells a complete story and can be enjoyed standalone. :) The second full-length installme…moreIt is part of a planned series, but The Electrical Menagerie tells a complete story and can be enjoyed standalone. :) The second full-length installment is still in progress, but there are currently 3 published companion shorts/novellas: Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers, Arbrook Huxley and the Miraculous Confection, and A Celestial Quartet. The first two are short stories both currently be found on Kindle Unlimited, and the latter is a flash fiction anthology that can be downloaded for free at All three are mostly spoiler-free and can be enjoyed before or after reading The Electrical Menagerie. (less)
Mollie Reeder There are whimsical mechanical creatures and characters (essentially robots), but no cyborgs. :)

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Allison Tebo
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An almost entirely SPOILER-FREE REVIEW.

Without a doubt, this one of the best books I’ve read in 2018.

I had seen a lot of excitement around The Electrical Menagerie’s release and I am always constrained when reading a hyped book but this book did more than not disappoint—it carried all my expectations like the crest of a wave as I was immersed in this beautiful story and world. I stayed up far into the wee hours to finish TEM simply because it was impossible to put it down.


Katelyn Buxton
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update 2020: I have read this book three times now, and it’s still just as magical as ever. I will never get tired of Carthage and Huxley.


~ I received a free advance review copy of The Electrical Menagerie, therefore all of the following opinions are my own ~

This book is absolutely magical in every way. This is the kind of book that swallows you up so thoroughly, you can’t stop thinking about it, even when you’re not reading. It’s heartfelt, imaginative, and filled with characters that I
A brilliant, electric, engaging, deep, heartwarming, powerful, and character-driven novel. I immensely enjoyed nearly every moment and detail of The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder. It’s bright and warm and joyful, yet sometimes gritty and raw and dark, and it’s an entertaining adventure that has surprising depth of theme and heart. The Electrical Menagerie is primarily fascinating steampunk--with a dash of sci-fi, a healthy dose of real-feeling fantasy, and a rich background that remin ...more
Montzalee Wittmann
The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder and narrated by Travis Baldree is an audible book I requested and the review is voluntary. This was a fresh change from what I had been reading. I love steampunk and this was excellent! Adding in a circus feel, the steampunk, and then murder, and more, it took this novel over the 'big top'! Loved the characters, especially one of the "electricals". Plot and twists kept the story rolling.
With Travis Baldree as narrator is was bound to be good! Excelle
Deborah O'Carroll
(Edit: I finally saw The Greatest Showman, and if you love that movie you NEED to read The Electrical Menagerie, because The Electrical Menagerie is even better. <3)

(Also posted on my book blog: 10 Reasons You Should Read The Electrical Menagerie.)

1. What did I just read? *deep breath* I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was absolutely delightful and I have a book hangover—how will anything ever be this good again? AAHH. *collapses and wails and longs for a sequel* I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like
Laura Grace
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

An absolutely thrilling story!

I knew going in that this book was going to be phenomenal because I had seen glowing reviews and massive fangirling. Yet, I don't think this even fully prepared me for the magical journey and lovable characters!

Truly, The Electrical Menagerie was everything and more. I didn't know I needed it until I read it to be honest. Carthage and Huxley have I guess what would be called a "bromance" and quite sure the author had me
The Electrical Menagerie is difficult to classify--in an awesome way. It doesn't fit perfectly into the sci-fi or fantasy genres, but instead bridges the two. It's set in a rich and captivating universe with many steampunk elements--though "steampunk" is too simplistic a term to fully describe it. It's a realm of flat islands floating in space, stars that orbit the "earth," and mechanical wonders that border on the magical. All that was enough to suck me in right from the outset, but even the mo ...more
Claire Banschbach
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally read this!! It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it very much lived up to the hype. ;)

I think the coolest part for me was all the electricals and illusions. Some part of me is very fascinated with magic tricks and illusions, though I just want to be impressed and not so much figure out how they work. Carthage would have a very willing audience in me. lol!

But Huxley is still my fave. I think it's because I read the prequel novella first and found him to be adorkably charm
Hannah Heath
Man, this book is INCREDIBLE. Awesome world-building, the perfect mix of character-driven and plot-driven. The disability representation was so, so good. I almost exploded from happiness. Also: the audiobook narrator is brilliant. I loved every single aspect of this novel and cannot recommend it highly enough.
R.F. Gammon
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an absolutely gorgeous story.
Tricia Mingerink
I was so excited when this book released on audiobook! It has been on my TBR for a while, but I don't have a lot of time to sit down and read books these days. So when it became available on audiobook, I immediately purchased it and started listening a few days later.

The narrator did a really good job. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like him, but then I got used to his voice and couldn't stop listening.

After hearing so much about this book and so much fangirling, I went into this boo
Nate Philbrick
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went into this book without lofty expectations because the genre and subject matter weren't ones I would typically be drawn to. To be honest, so many friends had praised it that I was mostly curious to see for myself.

Having finished it for myself, I can now say one thing for certain: The Electrical Menagerie is flawless.

The pacing from start to finish, the character arcs, the intrigue, the writing*, the sense of purpose infused into every scene and beat. Are there minor nits to be picked? Mayb
The Electrical Menagerie is one of those books whose cover I've been admiring, but I didn't think it would be the right book for me. I had never read anything in the steampunk genre before, and was skeptical about buying the book until I saw Laura A. Grace rave about it on her YouTube channel. I'm glad to say that taking a chance on The Electrical Menagerie was one of the best bookish decisions I've made, as the book has charmed its way onto my all-time favorites list! <3

What I Loved:
The Cha
E.B. Dawson
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars!

This book was a delightful romp! Huxley and Carthage are so lifelike, they jump off the page, and they have some surprising complexities to their characters. For instance, I found it fascinating how Carthage was a bit of an absent-minded genius who absolutely thrived on performance but is painfully shy in other social settings. It seemed like some of these elements of his character should contradict, but they don't. Huxley in turn, for all his appearance of worldliness, is rather vulne
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A delightful steampunk fantasy tale as entertaining and whimsical as it is startlingly thought-provoking and profound. A must-read!
Deborah O'Carroll
I just had the most delightful experience!

It’s somehow fitting that a story largely involved with theatrical performance should be brought to life in this way by a talented audio performer. It was wonderfully theatrical to listen to—the next best thing to seeing it on a screen. I LOVED it!

It’s a wild ride of adventure, imagination, flying trains and islands in the sky, electrical robots, a stardust-powered steampunk-feel, show-business and illusions, mystery and sabotage and insidious plots, an
R.J. Rodda
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This felt fresh and original. The steampunk world was enchanting and entertaining. I liked how the friendship grew between the main characters and the murder mystery aspect of the plot kept me turning the pages (although no huge surprises in that direction). This had a literary feel with themes such as illusion verses honesty and the necessity of confronting the past to heal the present. There’s a lot of funny one-liners too. Overall this is an entertaining read but with heart and depth.

Ashley Stangl
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Purely delightful. Review to come.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a delightful read and everything I hoped it would be. It swept me off my feet from the very first chapter and carried me off into a world I was sad to say goodbye to by the end. It has immediately become one of my favorite fantasy books and may just be the best book I’ve read so far this year.

The Electrical Menagerie follows dual protagonists Sylvester Carthage and Arbrook Huxley as they stake everything to compete in a talent competition in the hopes of saving their failing busine
Hufflepuff Book Reviewer
Without a doubt, the best aspect of The Electrical Menagerie for me was the number of genres that it juggles so seamlessly. The Electrical Menagerie is an endlessly entertaining mix of sci-fi, murder mystery, competition narrative (think perhaps of Monsters University or Pitch Perfect), political thriller, and buddy comedy. You would think that any story with its hands in so many cookie jars would end up feeling rather disjointed. But Reeder pulls it off seemly. The Electrical Menagerie doesn’t ...more
Kaley Rhea
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The story world is fun and fascinating, but it never upstages the real STARS of this book--Carthage and Huxley. These two are gold. Compelling and real as individuals, they're just alike enough and just different enough to really light up the page when they're together. Each dealing with his own past heartaches and traumas, there is so much growth and depth and new, precarious friendship in these pages! And robots! I just loved it all the way aro
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. Best vacation read ever, and Carthage and Huxley were SUCH fun friends. I can't wait to read more from this author! ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, rating-pg
This book was entirely delightful! Beautifully written, with an engaging plot and complex, subtly drawn characters, The Electrical Menagerie is the kind of book that gives indie publishing a good name. I loved the imaginative-yet-familiar story world, the steampunk-flavoured setting, the twists and turns in the plot, the bromance between the two main characters, and pretty much everything else. My only niggle was the ending, which didn't quite live up to everything else for me, but you know, tha ...more
Gillian Bronte Adams
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! It made me smile and laugh and want to read it again as soon I finished the first time. The Electrical Menagerie has such a fascinating story world and premise – an almost bankrupt robotic roadshow (robots on the stage, how cool is that???) participates in a grand contest where a series of auditions will select one show to perform before royalty – and it’s told with such strong, vivid writing that I could visualize each scene as if it was playing out before me on the big screen. ...more
C.O. Bonham
The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder is the first book in a new Steampunk Fantasy series.

It recounts the struggles of Carthage and Huxley, two entertainers on their last dime and failing to pull in the crowds. Until the Celestial Palace announces auditions are being held to search for an act suitable and fantastic enough for the Princess's upcoming birthday. These two grab on to what seems like their last hope and bet everything on winning.

I loved this book I was instantly drawn in by th
Beth Wangler
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Electrical Menagerie is perplexingly difficult to describe. It mixes fantasy and science fiction with heavy early-1900s, steampunk vibes and a good dash of wonder. The story takes place in a world unlike any I’ve ever encountered, either on the page or on screen: A “world” made of landmasses floating in the sky, circled by stars. I loved the subtle ways this impacted the characters’ ways of thinking, such as referring to the sun as the “Principle Star.”

In this world, electricity and mechanic
Amelia Nichole Defield
The characters are heartwarming, larger than life and real all at the same time. A futuristic fantasy world of magicians and traveling sideshows, a world where trains run on stardust and travel on invisible rails in the sky. The Electrical Menagerie is a fantastical tale that at the same time has such a realness to it, that you almost feel like you could go there. This book leaves you with a big smile on your face.

Read the full review on my blog -->
Merie Shen
By all that's whimsical and wondrous-- this book was PERFECTION.

Angie Thompson
*jaw drops*

My goodness! This book was just about everything I hoped, nothing that I feared, and more than I expected simultaneously. Wow--just wow!

To start with, the setting was so cool! The blend of steampunk and sci-fi with a nonmagical fantasy world was so unique and amazingly well done. It absolutely popped off the page and made me feel like I was right there. Also, it made me feel grounded in what was going on without massive info dumps or long digressions on history, politics, science, etc
Where do I start with this book? I haven't read a lot of steampunk stories, but this one came with such glowing recommendations from friends I trust that I had to check it out. I completely fell in love. The characters are engaging, the story is fun, and the writing superb. I loved how it was both exciting and mysterious and I always looked forward to the next time I'd get to read it. Carthage and Huxley were great main characters, lovable, and both so dynamic with so much growth. I appreciated ...more
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Mollie’s first job was with a major theme park, where she operated a roller coaster, fixed parade floats, and helped Scooby-Doo put on his head. Now, Mollie is a movie producer and the author of character-driven science fiction/fantasy novels for adults who never outgrew imagination. Her favorite things include Jesus, dinosaurs, and telling cinematic stories that blend glitter and grit.

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