Title: Discount Armageddon
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: March 6th, 2012
From Goodreads: 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...
Why did I read this book? This book caught my eye through the awesome premise and cover and I prompty added it to my most anticipated releases of 2012 list.
Discount Armageddon is a very fun and flirty beginning to a new urban fantasy series. McGuire hits all the major points on creating a great new series: good world building, a strong female heroine, and clever and entertaining dialogue. However, I did have some issues with the novel.
I’ll start with what I really enjoyed. The worldbuilding in this is some of the strongest I’ve seen for urban fantasy. Basically, supernatural species and creatures (called cryptids) exist in our world and are hunted by an old secret organization known as the Covenant of St. George. Verity Price, the protagonist, descends from a family line that defected from the Covenant when they found out that the decimation of the unicorns caused cholera to spread, greatly hurting humanity. Apparently the Covenant thought it right to destroy a species of low danger due to their doctrine, with no care for the cost to humans. Verity’s family disagreed and moved to America to lead their own lives, helping the cryptids and learning about them as much as they could.
The creativity really comes in through the cryptids. Each species is unique and I found myself pleasantly surprised by all of it. Of course, one of my favorites is the Aeslin mice, a colony of mice that lives with Verity and is very, very religious. They celebrate many holidays, mostly revolving around key moments in Verity’s life, such as “Month of Do Not Put That in Your Mouth!” I laughed many times then wished I had some of my own. Another great cryptid are the Dragon Princesses, women who are fireproof and co-existed with dragons. Or they did, until dragons went extinct thanks to the Covenant. They still collect a lot gold and have a lot of mystery about them. But I won’t that spoil here.
Verity herself is a great lead character and a tough young woman. She’s very Buffy-esque, without the superpowers. By day she’s a ballroom dancer and by night she’s a waitress in New York City and cryptozoologist. She likes to run on rooftops and shoot guns. She’s also wisecracking, resourceful and generally cares a lot about the cryptids.
The things that really bugged me about Discount Armageddon were some aspects of the writing. I quickly got tired of hearing how dancing makes a great fighter (I don’t even know if I agree) and how much dancing Verity does while not seeing very much of it. Also, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief, not with the supernatural aspects of the story, but with Verity, the human. Who would run and climb over rooftops in New York City in stilettos and a miniskirt? On the way to work? Don’t you end up sweaty and gross and tired? I felt like a lot of believability was sacrificed for the coolness factor. It’s just so cool to have a ballroom-dancing, gun-carrying human running around in stilettos and skimpy clothing, but it doesn’t make much sense.
There’s also a romance with, you guessed it, the two people from opposite sides of the cryptid situation. It’s very predictable, but I didn’t fault it too much since I liked the love interest, Dominic.
Overall, I enjoyed Discount Armageddon for its great world building and fun story. I believe people will enjoy this as well as it’s a good start to an urban fantasy series. I’d watch out for some cheesey fight scenes and situations and the lackluster romance, but if you like that sort of lightness, then you’ll have no problem here. I’m going to be continuing with the sequel because I really want to see how far McGuire takes this. Also, there’s a great cryptid Field Guild on McGuire’s website that is worth checking out.
Next Review: Wide Open by Deborah Coates
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