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The book: Books 2-6 of the InCryptid Series by Seanan McGuire, starting with Midnight Blue-Light Special

The summary:

The Covenant of St. George was founded to uphold one simple ideal: anything that was not present on the Ark—anything they deemed "unnatural"—needed to be destroyed. Monsters. Creatures of myth and legend. All of them would be wiped from the Earth in the name of Man's dominion. Unfortunately for them, not all the monsters agreed with this plan...and neither did all the human beings.
After their rather abrupt departure from the Covenant, Alexander and Enid Healy found themselves alone in the world, but with a simple mission of their own: to protect the cryptids of the world from those who would harm them without just cause. It was a cause that would eventually claim both their lives, leaving their children, and their children's children, to take up the fight. Now in the modern day, their descendants struggle to stay beneath the Covenant's radar, while defending the cryptids from humanity—and humanity from the cryptids.


How I found it: Like many of us, my gateway Seanan McGuire book was Rosemary and Rue, the first October Daye story. From there, I began seeking out her other work, and as another urban fantasy series, InCryptid seemed like the natural next step. I read the first book, Discount Armageddon, in 2013 or so, and I enjoyed it, but didn't fall in love with the universe or the characters nearly as much as I had Toby and her world. So when I had to set aside the second book, Midnight Blue-Light Special, only a few chapters in, I didn't feel any strong urgency to return. But I kept buying the new volumes, on the assumption I would get back to them someday. And someday is now.

What inspired me to read it now: One of the many blessings of living in San Francisco is my proximity to Borderlands Books, which specializes in SFF and has many wonderful author events. McGuire often presents there, and since she's so great to see live, I go whenever I can. Recently, she was there to support Book Six, Magic for Nothing, and in answer to a question about the series going forward, she said that Sarah, my favorite character from the first book, would be the POV character for the upcoming Book Seven. I decided then that it was well-past time to catch up, so starting in late March I started over on Book Two and, over the course of about six weeks, read the rest of the novels. (This series also includes a whole bunch of short fiction, focusing on previous generations of the Healy-Price clan and their friends and allies, as well as extra stories about Verity and Antimony; I haven't read any of these yet, but I plan to page through them as I have time.)

The verdict: Although I'm decidedly more mixed in my reaction to these books than to those in the Toby Daye series (which got really rolling for me in Book Three, and I've never turned back), I have come to a great appreciation for the Healy-Price clan, and I won't let myself get so far behind again. It's hard not to compare these two series, given that they share a genre, and more specifically a focus on mystic creatures in the modern world. InCryptid is somewhat lighter in tone than October Daye, and it also has multiple narrator. October Daye is so steeped in the voice and viewpoint of its protagonist that it's hard to separate them, whereas the InCryptid novels so far have four POV characters: the three Price children and their cousin, Sarah. As the series goes along, McGuire gets better at giving each narrator their own distinct voice; I found this most notable in Magic for Nothing, which is the first novel from youngest child Antimony's POV, and her take on events feels quite different from her siblings Verity (who narrates Books One, about two-thirds of Book Two, and Book Five), and Alex (Books Three and Four). One advantage of having multiple points of view is that we get a more well-rounded picture of the characters -- instead of always being inside Verity's head, for example, we get a little bit of detail on how Alex and Antimony see her (and Antimony's opinions are not entirely flattering). And one of the things I'm looking forward to as the series moves forward is adding more voices and more perspectives.

To a certain extent, I've been noticing quality swings between even- and odd-numbered books, with the even-numbered books being stronger in my opinion, and I wonder if this is due to InCryptid having a bit of a series-of-duologies feel. Although there is a strong through-line to the series as a whole, and each book certainly stands alone, for the most part the odd-numbered books often set up the events of the book that follows, and so there is a greater story pay-off in Books Two, Four, and Six. (I might suspect this is an artifact of reading so many of the books in succession, but a few years passed between my readings of Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special, and I saw the same pattern there.)

Overall, I am happy to recommend this series and look forward to seeing where it goes next, and I am particularly excited by McGuire's comment at the reading that she is writing a short from the POV of the Aeslin mice (a group of characters that are better experienced than described), for which I will wait with bated breath.

Date: 2017-05-16 05:44 pm (UTC)
monanotlisa: Diana as Diana Prince in glasses and a hat, lifting the rim of the latter rakishly. HOT! (Default)
From: [personal profile] monanotlisa
Hmm, this is good to know -- I'm listening to Discount Armageddon right now, and it's just entertaining enough...but it's no match to Rivers of London, alas, which have set my bar for Urban Fantasy wit pretty high.

Date: 2017-05-18 02:01 am (UTC)
umadoshi: (tea - mug with heart (iconriot))
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
I am particularly excited by McGuire's comment at the reading that she is writing a short from the POV of the Aeslin mice

It's finished and has been released! It's one of her Patreon rewards. (And all supporters get full access to everything she's written for the Patreon, even at the $1 tier.)

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