A Different Type of Urban Fantasy Series
InCryptid Series Review
Lately I’ve been filling my book shelves with urban fantasy books and I especially like reading books in a series. The benefit to a series is that if I like the characters and the books, there are more. I don’t have to wait. I hate waiting. 🙂 I first read the “October Daye” series by Seanan McGuire and when I ran out of books, I discovered her “Incryptid” series.
This is a series of six books:
- Discount Armageddon
- Midnight Blue-Light Special
- Half Off Ragnarok
- Pocket Apocalypse
- Chaos Choreography
- Magic for Nothing (coming soon)
I’ve read all but Magic for Nothing, but I’ve pre-ordered that. And unlike most series I’ve read, these books cover the antics and adventures of a family rather than a single individual. So the protagonist changes as you move through the series, but the basic premise is the same.
A New Take on Urban Fantasy
What I like best about this series is that it’s a new way of thinking about urban fantasy. Like many urban fantasists, McGuire uses the trope of monsters living among us—hidden in plain sight. But instead of standard werewolves and vampires, she has things like Gorgons and The Monster Under the Bed. And the main characters are not (at least so far) monsters, or as she styles them, cryptids. They are human.
They are human and they are fighting to let the cryptids live with and alongside humanity as much as they can. We are all people, seems to be the refrain.
Of course, if they’re trying to kill people, all bets are off.
I’m just glad that it wasn’t more werewolves and vampires.
Verity—A Dancer and Scientist
Verity Price is the protagonist for books 1, 2, and 5. She is a city girl who would much rather do professional ballroom dancing than fight for cryptid rights. In book one she moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional dancer. The idea was that if she couldn’t make a go of it after a year she’d return to the family business and study cryptids while helping protect them from the Covenant.
Short version? She’s not a professional dancer any more. For the long version you should read the book.
Book two was less memorable for me. For one thing, dragons were involved in book one—and not how you might expect. But even though I remember less of the plot, I still found it enjoyable and worth reading.
Book five picks up more of Verity’s life as she returns once more to ballroom dance, this time in southern California. One of the things I liked most about Verity’s part of the series was how interesting she made ballroom dancing seem. Prior to these books, I thought of shows like “Dancing with the Stars” as something to flip past in the Netflix listings, but this series made me look at it in a whole new light. I appreciate the books for that as much as the entertainment value, as it gave me something new to be interested in.
Alexander—Zoologist and Reptile Specialist
Books three and four switch protagonists to Alex, Verity’s older brother. Alex works in a zoo in the reptile house and through him we learn about a bunch of new cryptids based on reptile mythology. There is the Wadjet, a cryptid where the females are human-looking women and the men are giant cobras. There are three types of gorgon and a couple of other things that can turn you to stone just by looking at you. But my favorite is Crunchy, the alligator snapping turtle that has only once or twice been used to dispose of corpses. He’s not a cryptid, he’s just cool.
When I started book three I was a bit disappointed to be jerked out of Verity’s life and into Alex’s, but that was short lived as Alex is very interesting in his own right. He would like to just quietly continue his basilisk breeding program, but things get in the way. Small things like nearly being turned to stone and his girlfriend almost killing his cousin.
All that gets worked out in time for book four to start with werewolves terrorizing Alex’s girlfriend Shelby’s family back home in Australia. Alex and Shelby head down to Oz to help out, and things get ugly. For one thing, her dad isn’t ready for her to have a steady boyfriend, let alone a yank who wants to marry her and (possibly) cart her off to America, and he’s going to enforce his concerns with guns. Oh and Alex might have gotten a little bit bitten by a werewolf. So there’s that.
Science and Fantasy Combined
One of the things I like about this series is how McGuire combines science with fantasy. It’s as though she thought “what would happen if a scientist learned of the existence of dragons or other fantastical creatures?” And the stories moved from there. When the first reaction to learning about something fantastic isn’t “Kill it! Kill it with fire!” there might be a chance to learn something about it. And that’s where her fictional Price family came from.
Of course, there has to be an antagonist, and in the InCryptid series that is “the Covenant.” This is a group of people dedicated to the discovery and eradication of any being that “didn’t board the Ark.” I’m not exactly sure how they define that but large snapping turtles that may eat corpses count and fish with fur do not. Apparently at one point they tried to declare the entire continent of Australia as unnatural and attempted to purge it. After all, they have crazy beasts like bears with infant pockets, giant mice that jump instead of run, and beavers with duck bills that lay eggs and are venomous. And those are all the “normal” animals.
So, the Price family has to be both scientists who discover and catalog the cryptids they find and also warriors who protect those species that can’t protect themselves from the Covenant and others like them.
This is a Great Series
I am eagerly awaiting book seven, which is apparently about their little sister Antimony. Antimony is a lover of grenades and pit traps, but hadn’t really found her “niche” in the first few books. I’m looking forward to learning about her in Magic for Nothing.