Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #1
Published on: March 6th 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right?
I am hard-pressed to not give this book a five.
Does the pacing flow like water? Yes.
Are the characters flavorful and frequently employed? Yes.
Is there a real sense of danger or mystery pulling us along? Yes.
A romance at its core? Yes.
Enough romance? Not quite.
It is clear where Mcguire is cheapening us.
But I am really just nit-picking with a book that so closely brushes the coveted five. Our protagonist, Verity Price (I don’t know about you but I really dig the quasi-symbolic, quasi-believable name and even the abbreviation, Very) comes from a family of monster hunters or cryptozoologists, as you will see it so often invoked within the book.
It would be easy in a book about monster hunting to let only the monster hunters shine. McGuire makes the seemingly simple decision to populate her world by a menagerie of things I have never heard about and the greatest part about these things I have never heard about is our protagonist does not have God tier knowledge about their workings either and is learning as she goes. This makes the book half about discovery and half about ass-kicking.
The devil’s really in the details when it comes to McGuire’s writing. She constructs an elaborate and colorful world inhabited by a dazzling array of creatures and manages to cast it all through the sharp and deadly tongue of Very Price, tactical dancer (slash) trans-dimensional visitor from the satirical world of sexploitation re: Sucker Punch . Every creature in this book feels inspired and critical to the proceedings. No gimmicks on display here! No foreplay either (at least as far as ass-kicking and discovery are concerned).
I probably feel most short-changed in that this book is not three hundred pages longer. Seriously, the first chapter may feel a little cheap with its club-hopping heroine and psychic sidekick busting a lame perp but once the main action and the mice pick up in chapter two there is no escape. I may have even learned something about the gender of reptiles and gender differentiation in general.
The quotes from other members of the family that frame the chapters are an excellent pacing device but I did feel they got mono-noted by the time I even reached halfway (spoiler: they are always about ass-kicking). The short location descriptions, on the other hand, are consistently funny and keep me grounded in a story that is actually pretty large.
I will emphasize again the the details take the cake quite frantically and often within this book. Whether it be the Aeslin mice, a gang of sentient and overly religious roommates, many others have mentioned (but the mice could always do with more mentioning), the fight scenes (developed, not spatially confusing, and always give you a sense Very is in over her head – but still capable of ass-kicking) and the (I could really pick out of a hat for this last one: the stray dance facts, the bogeymen, the Mandhuras – honey people, the therianthropes, the dragon princesses…like I said colorful and expansive world) little peeks Very drops that so clearly give us a glance into her colorful and expansive world. Disco ball.
The only excuse I have for not dropping a five is I am elitist when it comes to pulp v. “high literature”. But as I have tried to say many times this book coasts right on the periphery and makes me begin to question what could overcome the distinction if anything.
|Books in this series:|
|Recommendation:||Ass-kicking in a colorful and expansive world. A spunky protagonist who does not short change her friends or enemies.|
|Like this, like that:||October Daye series by Seanan McGuire (a repeat I know but I have heard good things), the Underdead series by Liz Jasper|