Tuesday, March 27, 2012

booknotes: discount armageddon

Starting to think about what to read on vacation this summer? Or what to read on the weekend before finals when you're totally and completely putting off the finishing touches on that term paper? If urban fantasy is your thing, check out Seanan McGuire's latest, Discount Armageddon (Daw, 2012). It's being billed as book #1 in a new "InCryptids" series, and while I can't say it does anything invigoratingly new the stuff it does is still very satisfying and fresh enough that I'll be checking out installment two.

Basic set-up: Heroine Verity Price is a member of a family of human Cryptozoologists who study supernatural beasties and, when necessary, protect them from humans and vice versa. In an attempt to choose between a life of competitive ballroom dancing and the family business, Verity moves from the family's Pacific Northwest location to New York City for a year. There, she not only has to contend with the indignities of a minimum-wage waitressing job, a sect of Price-worshipping mice (my hands-down favorite invention of the 'verse), and the high-stress world of dance competitions ... but also the arrival of a (predictably hunky) member of the Covenant -- the beast-hunting religious organization that the Price family broke away from generations before -- and the possibility that a real life dragon, thought to be extinct, may be hibernating beneath the city.

While Verity's going to have to step it up a bit before I'm convinced she's capable of the character presence of, say, Patricia Brigg's Mercy or Cherie Priest's Raylene, I did enjoy the fast-paced plot and the introduction of a set of characters -- both primary and secondary -- that have promise for future installments.  If this sort of urban fantasy adventure novel is your kind of popcorn read, I'd highly recommend checking it our of your local public library and slipping in your bag for the morning commute.

(I've reviewed installments of McGuire's October Daye series before, and KarraCrow's a fan of her Feed series, published under the name Mira Grant.)

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