by Seanan McGuire
Book 4 of InCryptid
Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.
Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.
Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.
Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.
I surprisingly found this book more enjoyable than the previous one, and I'm not sure if it's just because I've warmed to Alex and Shelby. For certain, it had nothing to do with the Australian cryptozoologists, the Thirty-Six Society--I didn't like them at all and felt like they all either needed a reality check or a good whack in their heads as a collective.
Neither Alex's nor Shelby's characters are any more fleshed out than they were in the previous book, but I think what really did it for me was all the lore about lycanthropy in the InCryptid world. I liked learning about how the lyncanthropy-w virus worked, all the new twists to werewolf transformation that Alex talked about, as well as learned about as new surprises were revealed throughout the book. What I DIDN'T like was how the Thirty-Sixers had a problem and refused to take the expert advice of someone who knew how to handle werewolves.
And even as Alex proved again and again that he was right about what he was telling them, they still continued to treat him like he was some sort of delusional crazy, disbelieving him and even being overly suspicious despite the fact that his own life had been in danger so many times, trying to save others. I'm in agreement with Shelby--if I'd have come to Australia with an intent to help and ended up being treated like some sort of crazed criminal, unwelcome and unwanted, I would have gotten on the first plane back out of Australia, and screw the survival of a bunch of jackasses who think they know better.
Outside of all of the above, I DO wish that we could have seen more of the cryptids in Australia. As the series suggests, Australia is an isolated ecological cesspit for all sorts of fun and new types of living creatures, both cryptid and non-cryptid. I loved meeting the yowie, and I loved watching the Tanner girls get schooled about how they treat their local sapient cryptids.
Now if only Alex could help school the rest of the Thirty-Sixers about how to cooperate with the rest of the sapient cryptids, maybe life on Australia for the cryptozoologists will be easier. Of course, on the other hand, I have my misgivings about the fact that an outsider had to teach the Thirty-Sixers this lesson, especially since, by all rights, I'd assumed that at least one person or another would have figured out how NOT to treat the sapient cryptids as monsters.
If a huge organization like the Covenant of St. George was able to produce a few dissenters, I'm surprised that a less restrictive organization such as the Thirty-Six Society hasn't yet.
Anyway, I know the next book goes back to following Verity, but further along the line, I wouldn't mind returning to Australia and visiting with one or another of the Tanner sisters, especially Raina, whom, while I did have issues with at first, ended up warming up to her.
|Halloween Bingo 2019|