One of the best parts of going to Book Expo of America? The books, of course! Including a few I grabbed when I visited the DAW office, like Seanan McGuire’s Midnight Blue-Light Special [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. This is book two in McGuire’s Incryptid series. (I reviewed book one here.)
This one picks up quite smoothly where book one left off. Discount Armageddon introduced us to Verity Price, cryptozoologist and ballroom dancer, who was watching over the cryptids of New York City and doing her best to avoid attracting the attention of the Covenant of St. George, something that got more complicated when she started dating Dominic De Luca, a member of said Covenant. Also, there were dragon princesses and talking mice, a scary psychic math whiz, and lots of sharp pointy things.
Book two ups the stakes: the Covenant is sending a team to purge New York City. If Verity runs, the cryptic population she’s tried to protect will be slaughtered. If she stays, well, there’s a good chance they’ll be slaughtered anyway, along with Verity. Though the Covenant wouldn’t kill her right away. First they’d force her to reveal the location of her family so they could wipe out her entire line.
While the plot felt a little light, there’s a lot that impressed me about this one. First of all, when you combine it with book one, you have a full character arc for Verity. It feels like you’re reading an episodic book, just like a hundred others, and suddenly you realize McGuire knows exactly where she’s going with Verity’s internal journey as well as the external battles. A lot of books have action; not all of them have that kind of internal development.
McGuire also demonstrates her willingness to break the rules (guidelines? expectations?) of first person point of view novels, and does so effectively. I love the way the chapter dingbats (the symbols at the start of each chapter) change when we jump to a different PoV. That was beautifully done.
I’m quite fond of the characters, as always. From the religious mice to the introductory quips from Verity’s family to Sarah the cuckoo, who we get to see much more of this time around. (Sarah is both wonderful and scary.)
Basically, it’s fast-paced urban fantasy that passes the Bechdel Test with ease, includes McGuire’s trademark creativity and banter, and makes for a fun read. If you liked book one, pick this one up as well.