Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #1
Source: Personal shelf
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night….
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.
When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. 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…
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I actually devoured Discount Armageddon when it came out last year but never wrote a post about it. (Shame on me, bad blogger that I am.) But with the recent release of Midnight Blue-Light Special, the second InCryptid novel, I wanted to re-read Discount Armageddon to give myself a refresher on Verity Price and her crazy InCryptid world.
As you probably know if you’ve followed the blog, I’m a huge Seanan McGuire fan. I love her Toby Daye books and I was totally excited when I first heard she was developing a new and very different urban fantasy series. And she certainly doesn’t disappoint with Discount Armageddon. McGuire has delivered another amazing novel. It’s got the funny, it’s got the action, and it’s got the amazing characters and world building that typify her work.
In the InCryptid world, the supernatural, the mythological, and the weird are all called cryptids. A group of humans called the Covenant of St. George polices/murders cryptids, depending on who you talk to. The Price family left the Covenant when they realized that the Covenant’s work wasn’t always benefitting humans and have since been branded traitors by their old organization. Verity Price has been trained by her family in cryptozoology, fighting, and a wide assortment of other survival and research skills. The rest of her family is back in Oregon but Verity is in New York City, doing a trial year on her own. She’s a bit different from the rest of her family because she has an alter-ego named Valerie Pryor, a ballroom dancer who made it big on a reality show. She’s on her own in NYC except for her cousin, Sarah (a telepathic cuckoo), and the Aeslin mice (a talking religious mouse sect) who live with her. When she’s not dancing, Verity waits tables at a cryptid-friendly strip bar run by a bogeyman named Dave (delightfully named Dave’s Fish & Strips).
All of these factors make for an awesome and exciting novel. Discount Armageddon is full of interesting cryptids, most of whom don’t make regular appearances in urban fantasy or paranormal romance. There are all sorts of neat beings, and McGuire very kindly puts a glossary at the back for easy reference. I’d never heard of some of the cryptids in Discount Armageddon, like ahools, cuckoos, and madhura, and it made this book extra interesting for me. I love it when a book is well researched and the smarts really shine in Discount Armageddon (though I am by no means an expert crytozoologist or dancer). There are also some really geeky and awesome science moments, particularly as Verity learns more about poorly documented cryptids. There is some really great stuff in Discount Armageddon on being a cryptozoologist and the Price family’s fieldwork. (You can check out the family field guide for more information.)
There’s also a great romantic storyline. Verity meets a Convenant diehard named Dominic DeLuca in the course of her investigation into the possible dragon beneath the city. He’s very by-the-book and dogmatic, sent by the Covenant to assess whether New York is due for a purge, so he and Verity block heads from the first. He’s a nice foil for Verity because he represents an organization that despises her family but she’s stuck with him and their attraction. It’s a tangly relationship, which means it makes for some excellent reading, and I’m curious to see where it will go since there’s no HEA in Discount Armageddon.
Re-reading Discount Armageddon has me completely revved up to read Midnight Blue-Light Special. I can’t wait to see what McGuire has cooked up for them in this next novel but I know it’ll be great because she’s such a talented and inspired writer.