The second book in Seanan McGuire’s cryptozoology themed urban fantasy came out last week. Thanks to a well placed biochemistry exam, I didn’t manage to post about it the week of its release. Oh well.
The first book is Discount Armageddon, and the subject of one of the first reviews I’ve ever posted.
Verity Price was born into a family of cryptozoologists, who’d broken away from the fanatical Covenant of St. George generations ago, due to their genocidal perspective on cryptids. The Covenant believes that all of the Prices are dead, and Verity’s family would like to keep it that way, all the while going about helping–and policing–the cryptid communities. Verity herself came to New York to prove that she could make it in ballroom dancing. She doesn’t have a lot of time for that, because the Covenant just arrived in town.
As a personal preference, I prefer the protagonist of Seanan McGuire’s other series, Toby Daye. But that’s probably because I relate to her more. Verity is more dramatic, and likes to gleefully emphasize how weird everything around her is. Toby treats it more like a fact of life. And isn’t anywhere near as ‘in your face’ about it. Still, Verity has her own flair that sets her apart.
I really like the supporting characters in this book. Sarah, the not-so-psychopathic member of a psychopathic race. Istas, the cryptid with a very different (and very violent) perspective on life. And she also has a fondness for ribbons. Ryan, the friendly shapeshifting bouncer. And so on. I also like that many of these characters are not typical for their species. They might not be human and they might have very different cultures, but they’re individuals, too.
I read the author’s blog, where she posts more tidbits about the universe, and so I think the villainous organization–the Covenant of St. George, dedicated to wiping out the world’s cryptids–is also interesting, in how it trains its members to promote fanaticism. Prejudice is a very pervasive thing, and actually looking at how this level of institutionalized prejudice is spread is probably worthwhile.
Again, I like the worldbuilding, with its huge variety of supernatural (or cryptid) people. I like how deep it goes, and how much family history the main protagonist has. The set up for the story is creative, and these books don’t remind me of anything else.
Overall, it’s fun, it’s wacky, and I recommend pretty much anything this author has ever written.
For anyone who wants to try out something in this universe, there are a series of shorts available on the author’s website (minus the first and last, which are in print form), following the adventures of Verity’s ancestors.