by Seanan McGuire
Book 1 of InCryptid
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... and that's just the beginning. 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? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
A lifetime of training isn't enough to prepare Verity for what's ahead—especially not for Dominic De Luca, the Covenant's newest operative. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed.
I haven't been so giddy about a book, or a series, even, in a very long time. Well... I take that back. I'm sure I've had this reaction about a lot of other books recently, but Discount Armageddon just hit all the right spots so well that I ended up absolutely loving it! This book was just so, so much fun to read, and I'm glad I picked it up for this year's Halloween Bingo game!
I'm a little abashed to admit that for a few seconds I vacillated between a 4.0 Star rating and what I eventually ended up giving this book: 4.5 Stars! I'm not sure what the exact workings are in my mind, but I decided to just go on FEELS, and my FEELS told me that this book was worth ALL THE STARS.
This book isn't perfect, by any means, but it's darn near perfect enough to satisfy all of my particular needs.
I'm actually quite happy about this, to be honest, if only because I've never truly had a great standing with urban fantasies, as much as I would have loved to have a better relationship with them. I love the concept of urban fantasies, and I've always wanted to find a great book series that would work for me. I've always wanted to find a great television series in the urban fantasy genre that would work for me.
Obviously, I haven't been really looking in the right places. As Discount Armageddon would prove, there's an urban fantasy out there for me after all. Not that I've gone through a whole lot of them, but the ones I have tried to start never really stuck. Even if I liked the first book, it was never compelling enough for me to continue the series, for one reason or another. Namely, the romances never sit well with me, and a lot of times the side characters seem like a group of background cardboard cutouts.
The last urban fantasy I tried to start reading had a broody jackass of a male love interest that really didn't do anything for me. And then I committed the ultimate sin of perusing reviews and summaries of the next few books just to find out that the jackass of a male love interest gets swapped out for a different jackass love interest... Needless to say, that ruined my expectations and I never went back to that particular series.
But that is neither here, nor there, now.
Discount Armageddon had all the right elements that kept me wanting more, and had me wanting to find the next book and continue into the series--which, at the posting of this review, is exactly what has already happened!
Verity is the typical sassy, sarcastic, kickass female you will see in most urban fantasy stories. But what I loved about her the most is that she also seems pretty down-to-earth, with the right amount of kickass, the right amount of sarcastic, and the right amount of just simple regular girl-next-door... if girl-next-door is a cryptozoologist who hunts monsters by night, waits tables at a strip club by day, and enters the occasional ballroom dance competitions.
Her random quips and one-liners sometimes got a little much, but were still extremely appreciated.
On top of having a great heroine in Verity, the rest of the characters were all unique and fun and interesting in their own right. They didn't just hang around in the background, waiting to be part of the story, they were absolutely there as part of the world. Everyone from Sarah, Verity's adopted cousin who is a Cuckoo; to Candy, the arrogant and grudge-holding Dragon Princess; to Verity's entire family; to even Dominic, the love interest.
Everyone had a colorful background, everyone had a purpose, and everyone is interesting enough on their own that I'd love to read books about all of them.
I can't wait to meet Antimony, Verity's baby sister; the baby sister who spent her childhood terrorizing her elder siblings by setting traps and snares on them for fun. I'm not as interested in Alex--he didn't have as many fun traits as Antimony was described to have, but we'll see when we get to his books.
Coming back to the love interest, I found I really came to like Dominic. As Verity had mentioned, he's got a learning curve and is willing to open his mind outside of what he's learned from growing up in the Covenant. He starts off as kind of a jackass, but that was coming from his lifetime of ignorance. I like that he's developing, step-by-step, and doesn't just sweep into the book as an asshole out to be an asshole just because he can. And I like that Verity doesn't immediately start falling for him; that it takes that little bit-by-bit revelation that Dominic can be convinced to be open-minded and start understanding the world without Covenant-colored glasses.
The story itself didn't have a lot of direction in it until a good ways into the books. Once it did, the action kept going at a fast enough pace to be exciting until the very end. It's a nice intriguing mystery to go with the book, focusing on the missing female cryptids, and ending on an interesting bang. I'm extremely looking forward to what the next book brings with the looming threat of the Covenant's possible purging of cryptid's from Manhattan hanging there.
Finally, as I bring this chaotic rambling to a close, I'm just going to say one last thing:
Aeslin mice. Everyone should have their own colony of them. Because I haven't been as enamored of a fictional, fantasy creature since Jayne Castle's dust bunnies were a thing.
Other possible squares: Shifters; Supernatural; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women