Saturday 21 April 2018

#CBR10 Book 35: "Half-Off Ragnarok" by Seanan McGuire

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is book 3 in a series. If you want to start at the beginning, check out Discount Armageddon.

From Goodreads: When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn't expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend - Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats - is starting to get suspicious. 

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone... The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner. 

Of course, so do the talking mice.

While Verity and Dominic are off on a road trip, moving all of Verity's stuff (and her little colony of mice) from New York, the readers are introduced to her older brother, Alexander Price. While Verity wanted to become a ballroom dancer, Alex has always embraced the family legacy and currently works in the reptile house at a zoo in Ohio. His assistant is a gorgon who keeps the snakes on her head hidden under a beehive wig. Most days, they have to figure out how to sneak a young girl into the enclosure with the giant cobra without anyone noticing, as the girl and the cobra are both wadjets, and engaged to be married. They need time to get to know one another properly.

Alex is staying with his grandparents, trying to help them tend to his cousin Sarah, who's rather far from her old self after massively taxing her abilities helping Verity escape the Covenant in New York. With his various cryptozoological research and his duties to his unusual family, Alex keeps having to come up with excuses to his girlfriend, who keeps getting more and more irritated, and then the first body shows up. Shortly after, Shelby comes over to his grandparents' house for the evening, and after meeting Sarah, it's clear that she knows more about the supernatural than Alex ever suspected.

I really liked the first two books in the InCryptid series, but this one was a slow starter for me. I couldn't care less about Alex and his boring research into tiny feathered frogs or whatever they were. Only after it becomes obvious that Shelby may know a lot about cats, but she's not really shocked by Alex' other extracurricular activities either. It takes her a while to get used to the fact that both his grandmother and cousin are from a species of psychic, telepathic and normally very self-serving and sociopathic creatures, who not only aren't as evil as the rest of their species, but in fact deeply loved by the Prices. She has an easier time getting used to Alex' grandfather, who is a revenant.

Together they investigate the deaths (because the death toll keeps rising) and it becomes clear that whoever is responsible is also trying to kill Alex and possibly Shelby as well. I learned a lot about what various creatures could wholly or partially petrify a person, and how. While neither Alex or Shelby appealed to me as much as Verity and Dominic, it was cool to meet their grandparents and se how Sarah was doing, and once they are able to be honest with one another, it's clear that Alex and Shelby are pretty much perfect for one another.

The next book is also about Alex and Shelby - set in Australia! - but as I'm not as excited about that right now, I'm going to take a bit of a break from the series and read some other things before I continue with the series.

Judging a book by its cover: While there's nothing particularly bad about this cover, my mental images of Alex and Shelby look nothing like the people on this cover. It's otherwise a perfectly ok cover, which gives a better impression of what you might expect from the story than the one for Discount Armageddon. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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