I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the title of this novella, and it certainly lived up to its promise. From the first, what struck me most about J.T. Fairfield's Caged in Myth was the originality of the setting. A zoo with a difference, the Bayou is staffed entirely by supernaturals, and provides shelter to far more than your average giraffes and elephants. It’s home to Area Five, the covert section of the zoo which houses those mythological creatures deemed too dangerous to roam free. If humans discovered the existence of these creatures, or if any were allowed to escape, it could spell disaster.
Abandoned as a baby by parents he’s never known, Jay has been brought up in an orphanage for supernatural children. Now, at seventeen, he’s sharing a trailer with his two closest friends, and working at the Bayou Zoo to earn a living while he finishes his education. But it isn’t just the magical community he has to keep hidden; Jay’s concealing a secret of his own. He’s gay, and finds himself increasingly attracted to Colin, a sexy fellow zookeeper. Worse still, he has no idea how his friends and colleagues might react if he were ever to betray his feelings.
As if Jay doesn’t have enough on his mind, things take a darker turn when vandals target the zoo. A number of the habitats in Area Five are sabotaged, and some of the more deadly creatures released. It soon becomes clear that someone, probably an insider, is intent on exposing the supernaturals to the wider world, with little regard for human safety. Thrust into close proximity with Colin as they work together to unmask the culprits, Jay struggles to confront the truth about his sexuality while battling to stay alive.
Once I started reading this book, I found it almost impossible to put down. Sexual tension crackles between Jay and Colin from the outset, and when combined with a compelling mystery and the sense of foreboding that runs beneath the surface of every scene, the result is a real page-turner. My only criticism, if you can call it one, is that the story ended far too soon! The last chapter finished on a cliffhanger that left me desperate to know what would happen next, and I can’t wait for the second installment in this series.
For anyone wanting a fast-paced read that blends romance with plenty of action and suspense, I can highly recommend Caged in Myth.