Friday, February 24, 2012
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
WOW! Capital W capital O capital W exclamation point. That’s my immediate reaction after reading Discount Armageddon. If I wanted to do a lazy review I’d tell you that this is a totally awesome book and you should run out and buy it right now, but that however wouldn’t be telling you why.
Discount Armageddon is the first book of Seanan McGuire's (October Daye series) new InCryptid urban fantasy series.
Most of us have heard about cryptids, they’re creatures who might exist or are rumoured to, but no genuine proof has actually been discovered. Two of the most famous examples are the Himalayan Yeti and Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster. Discount Armageddon works on the premise that cryptids are real, they’ve always been real, many of them co exist alongside the rest of the population, others walk amongst us without anyone being aware of it.
Verity Price comes from a long line of cyrptozoologists, who have worked for generations to find, study and protect the cryptids. If many of the cryptids are actually monsters, or as the back cover blurb puts it ‘Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties’ why do they need protecting and what from? That would be the Price families sworn enemy; the Covenant of St George, this centuries old, quasi military organisation exists to exterminate cryptids…ALL cryptids. Some of them are harmless and others are actually beneficial to human society. Verity’s ambition is to be a professional dancer, and she’s moved to New York to pursue that dream, but the only way her family would let her go was if she also promised to look after the family business on the East Coast.
On the way home from her job as a cocktail waitress at a cryptid owned and staffed strip club (Dave’s Fish and Strips) one night Verity runs into her exact opposite, a naïve, but cute Covenant operative by the name of Dominic De Luca. Once she gets out of his trap and gives him a right royal telling off, Verity and Dominic soon work out that while they’re coming at it from different angles they essentially have the same goal, and that’s to find and neutralize the sleeping dragon under Manhattan before it causes major damage to the human and cryptid population of the city.
Discount Armageddon is urban fantasy in its purest form. Although the October Daye series has been highly successful for Seanan McGuire, and both she and her growing army of fans are fond of the changeling detective and the cast of that series, the InCryptid series is the one Seanan has always wanted to write and in fact I believe she was born to do this one. At times it was like she had a direct line to my brain, I often found myself reading and thinking ‘I’ve always wondered how that would work if someone wanted to write about it.’
Verity has a strong voice, she’s a knowledgeable and easy to relate to narrator, she may be a bit too idealistic for her own good, and she is fiercely independent and protective of those close to her. Verity and Dominic make an excellent opposites attract couple, and they’re both very likeable. There’s also a great supporting cast, from Verity’s family; her cranky, studious, gun loving brother and her frankly dangerous younger sister; Antimony, to her telepathic adopted cousin Sarah Zellaby and Verity’s workmates; the gorgon Carol, with the dangerous, venomous hair, the waheela Istas, who seems to have a penchant for wearing her enemy’s bodily organs as hats and the dragon princess Candy, who doesn’t have much in the way of offensive capabilities aside from asbestos skin. I haven’t even mentioned the Aeslin mice, yet and no review of Discount Armageddon would be complete without some mention of the community of intensely religious talking rodents, who amongst other things, are addicted to cheese and cake.
It is early days, but Discount Armageddon is one of the most amusing urban fantasies I’ve ever read, packed with fresh ideas and plenty of scope to expand. Hopefully sales will be strong and we readers will get to see a lot more of Verity, the Price family and the cryptids. Cheese! And Cake!