Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Trade paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Daw Books
Release date: March 6th 2012
Series: InCryptid #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Christine
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.
I´m always looking for books that offer something new in the urban fantasy genre, something that takes me by surprise. Discount Armageddon is one of the rare books that accomplish exactly that.
Verity Price is a cocktail waitress in a club for discerning gentlemen, ballroom dancer and cryptozoologist. Even though her family has a long tradition of studying Cryptids, Verity is allowed to try to decided her own future. Along with her best friend and cousin, a cuckoo (basically a telepathic genius), she tries to keep the Cryptids from hurting humans who are unsuspecting about their existence. Only when reasoning with Cryptids does not stop them from hurting humans, she kills them.
That MO distinguishes Verity’s family from the rest of the people who are aware of the existence of supernatural creatures, namely the Covenant of St. George. Their members have a habit of killing everything that is not 100 percent human. That’s why Verity’s family has separated from the Covenant, are even considered to be traitors. That’s why the Prices go to great lengths to hide the fact that their line is still very much alive and kicking, despite opposite rumors.
But guess who captures Verity with a snare on a rooftop in New York? Dominic De Luca, an annoyingly handsome guy who was raised by the Covenant and blindly believes in their doctrines. He has been sent to New York to assess the Cryptid population and decide if there’s a need for a purge, which basically means the extinction of the entire Cryptid community. And Verity wouldn’t be a Price if she didn’t do her best to prevent that. Unfortunately, Dominic proves to be more of a distraction for Verity than she likes to admit. Add to that disappearing female Cryptids, the rumor of something big and nasty sleeping under New York City and the fact that we’re talking about a Seanan McGuire book, a fantastic read is guaranteed.
Verity is an amazing female lead character. She is rather stubborn, independent and funny. How she uses her dancing for fighting is brilliant and I love the rather unique assortment of skills she has. Her romps over the rooftops doing parcours are delightful and the tidbits about her childhood, her family and siblings are hilarious in their oddity. I wish there would have been more scenes with them, maybe even some where Verity and her family interact in person rather than just over the phone. I really hope there will be more of the Prices in the next book in the series.
Dominic seems to be the exact opposite of Verity. He starts out being a model Covenant member, but as he starts investigating the disappearances with Verity and gets to know some of the very human Cryptids, he is forced to think twice about everything he was taught to believe. By the end of the book you can´t deny the change he has gone through.
The different kinds of Cryptids is a welcome change from your usual vamps, weres and fey. The creativity it takes to come up with all the different kinds of Cryptids really amazes me. Personally, I really wish I could have my very own colony of Aeslin mice. They are the cutest paranormal species I’ve come across in quite a while. Even though there´s a huge variety of species introduced in this book, I believe we’ve merely seen a small part of the Cryptid world.
But aside from the intriguing and unique world building, the pace of the story also doesn’t disappoint. There are a lot of funny moments (including a cuckoo’s eating habits, some very weird and random encounters with the Aeslin mice and one interrupted dancing competition), high octane action and fighting scenes and even sexy one on one action between Verity and a certain someone.
All in all, Discount Armageddon is a perfect start for a new series: great characters, a killer story and a world that sucks you right in and begs to be discovered further in (hopefully a lot of) upcoming books. A must read for everybody who loves urban fantasy.
I suddenly feel like my hobbies are incredibly boring compared to Verity’s. Maybe I should be doing parcours on the rooftops of Munich? And who else wants a colony of Aeslin mice to celebrate days like “The Day After The Last Exam And Way Too Much Red Wine”?